Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0

Smita Patel

In most organizations, the IT network covers all the functions outside the shop floor – Accounts, HR, Stores, Sales, etc. Hence Managers from these departments have accurate and real-time data on all these functions and can take decisions in time.

The shop floor in most companies is usually not connected with the IT department, especially for real-time data. Computers on the shop floor, are usually only for incoming material entry and generating invoices, etc.

The shop floor is where the production of our components actually happens and all other departments exist to support this floor. There is a massive investment in machines that produce parts, and we sell these parts to make a profit for the organization. We need to ensure that this investment in machines is recovered to the fullest extent, by putting in systems to improve efficiency. Managers need accurate and real-time data on what is happening on the shop floor – how many parts have been produced, the efficiency level of each machine, the extent of losses in terms of machine downtime, part rejections, any big problems requiring immediate decisions, etc. None of this is however available. It can only be enabled by extensive use of IT, right up to each individual machine.

This is the basic principle which has given birth to the concept of Industry 4.0 and it is designed precisely to do this. Both Machines and Computers have been around for decades now, but they have never interacted with each other. Industry 4.0 connects the office IT to the shop floor and to the machines. Software and hardware that does machine monitoring (and control), transmits data to and from machines to the central database. For instance:

  • A supply chain software can reorder raw material and dispatch finished goods based on the production data from machines;
  • A production scheduling software can continuously readjust schedules based on the status of the shop/li>
  • An HR software can pay operators based on their efficiency and their presence or absence at the machine/li>
  • Sales software can determine delivery dates based on live production status, and so on.
  • Making machines to be an integral part of your IT network is the basic fundamental of Industry 4.0

Just as "Lost time is never found again" every minute of time on a machine is precious. Each minute that the machine works, it makes money for us. Each minute that it is idle, we lose money. Once we have lost an hour of downtime, we can never recover it. For example, think of a CNC machine or press machine costing Rs. 100 per minute, which means for every minute lost, the company loses Rs. 100/-

The problem is that, on a typical shop floor, it is impossible to know how much time the machines are idle, and how much money we are losing. Some of us try to know, by having manual systems where people keep a note of downtimes and their reasons, and we do a post-mortem of the reports the next day. The reports are however too late and often do not give the actual status. If there is a situation requiring urgent attention, this system is not going to bring the situation to our notice. All these results in lost times, never to be found again.

The only way to reliably reduce lost time is by Industry 4.0 implementation through a 24/7 machine monitoring system. The system works non-stop, tracks your machine's production and downtimes, report them to you in seconds, and alerts you in case an urgent action is required.

This is the next thing happening at Takshi, we intend to be abreast with the modern technological advancements and implement Industry 4.0 across our manufacturing plants to ensure complete utilisation of our infrastructure. Like most things, it is easier said than done, but we are all geared up for new challenges and learnings.

14 May 2019
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