Towards a smart factory

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“A new order arrives by email. The autonomous order reading system interprets the mail and extracts the different lines of the order, automatically entering them in the ERP. The reading confidence level has been high, so no notification is generated for a person to review.

When you enter the order in the ERP, the order processing system assigns the material that is available in stock and adds the new manufacturing requirements to the production plan.

A delivery plan is automatically generated, which sets out when and how each product will be delivered, and sent to the customer by email. In addition, a request for new shipments is made to the carrier.

By detecting the change in the production plan, the factory optimization system initiates the recalculation of the manufacturing program, which looks for the best way to produce to minimize process costs, material consumption, downtime, energy expenditure, etc. As a result, some adjustments are made to the program to optimally accommodate the new order.”

This is a smart factory:only 15 minutes after receiving an order, production has been rescheduled, the customer has been informed when and how they will receive their order, and the shipment has been contracted for the first delivery.
And that’s what Industry 4.0 is all about (among other things). Thanks to Artificial Intelligence and the integration of systems it is possible to achieve a flexible and efficient factory.

Industry 4.0 Revolution or evolution?
Much has been said in recent years about the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, which includes relatively new concepts such as IoT, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Additive Manufacturing, Augmented Reality, Digital Twins, etc. In general, technologies known for quite some time that are now finding application in the industrial sector.

From a technological point of view, it might be more appropriate to talk about evolution than revolution. Although the technology has been around for many years, the power of the devices has been increasing and their cost reduced, until their usefulness has been evident and has begun to be widely adopted.

The revolution is about how this technology is changing the way you run a factory. Now, all relevant information is immediately available to those who need it, within the company, or even to customers and suppliers. And thanks to this information the system is able to make some decisions, which allows to accelerate management processes reducing costs, increasing flexibility and improving customer service.

Such is the magnitude of the change that companies that fail to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities offered by Industry 4.0 are in danger of losing market share or, at worst, disappearing.
The Impact of Artificial Intelligence

The application of Artificial Intelligence in the industry is helping companies to be more efficient and flexible, allowing them to offer a service more adapted to the needs of their customers.  According to a Capgemini study, half of European manufacturers are already implementing cases of use of Artificial Intelligence.
Artificial Intelligence is expected to be one of the largest economic engines of our time, with a contribution to global GDP that could reach $16 trillion by 2030 (a figure close to all of the European Union’s GDP). And aware of the relevance that AI will acquire, Europe and each member country are investing a lot of money in that type of technology reaches the industrial fabric.
What is clear is that Artificial Intelligence is becoming an indispensable tool for companies and that it is not an issue that can be ignored.

The challenges posed by Industry 4.0
Adopting new technologies and implementing Industry 4.0 solutions is not easy. In general, it is very difficult for companies to keep up with the technologies that reach the industry sector and it is often necessary to have the support of companies specialized in digitization to be able to implement them successfully.

On the other hand, the investment required to upgrade the factory can be important, especially when it involves the modernization of machinery. Luckily, there are various lines of public funding that allow innovation and digitisationprojects to be undertaken with veryfavourable conditions, both at the regional, state and European levels.
On the otherhand, it is important to analyze well the possible digitization projects and prioritize those that present a greater business value and ease of implementation. It is important that the first projects succeed in building trust, as one of the main difficulties for innovation projects overcome internal reluctance.

On the other hand, the evolution of intelligent systems is changing the tasks that workers must perform, so they must develop new capabilities such as information analysis, idea development, flexibility or mastery of new technologies.

Together towards the smart industry
Sometimes the simplest way to implement Artificial Intelligence is to acquire a commercial solution, already developed, that adapts well to the needs. However, in many cases the solutions a company needs are not yet on the market, or are so particular and company-specific that the best option is to develop it to measure.
Aquiles Solutions has long experience in developing tailor-made solutions for Industry 4.0. We are specialized in the development of software for process optimization, the generation of predictive models with machine learning and artificial vision for material classification, quality control, etc.

We accompany companies on the path of digitization, advising them at all times and helping them to achieve more flexible and efficient processes, to achieve a smart factory.

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