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The big picture involving digitization and automation gets a mainstream, impressive approach (see our previous posts about Industry 4.0) that tries to transform the technical terms into a coherent narrative. Whilst capable of explaining how the world could look like, once it benefits from all the advantages brought in by intelligent machines, this approach also stirs controversy. There is a fair amount of worries in relation with the societal and economic changes induced by an increased global automation.

This topic is often mirrored in online and offline debates and various materials. Although it serves in familiarizing one and all with technical concepts otherwise difficult to understand, it manages to partially misrepresent the reality of digitization and automation. Not that the bright future everyone is talking about is not attainable, nor that the disruptions mentioned are unlikely. But down-to-earth automation for now looks different, and to minimize risks and enhance future benefits we need to focus our attention on doing things the right way.

In other words, it’s always now that we are shaping the future. Getting too distracted with the big picture to the detriment of in-the-moment quality is in fact harming the same future in discussion.

 

Humans and machines, partners for decades

What we forget is that automation already makes so many things in our daily lives function, for quite some time. Traffic lights, industrial manipulation, elevators or appliances already function with the help of intelligent software. The examples may go on. True, now new concepts such as AI or ML went beyond theory and we witness quite a competition among companies to be the first ones to achieve viable products incorporating this traits, roughly defined as “machine intelligence”.

What does automation translate into nowadays? What is the competition all about?

Automation means reliable software that allows tedious tasks to be computed straight from one machine to another. This should bypass the human contribution in transmitting information.

Automation means self-diagnose and self-reporting, with an outcome of better, faster insights towards the human process coordinator.

It also means self-regulation of machine systems, where one element send out the request for a certain action or input, and gets an automated response that perfectly meets the request.

Automation for now is in the stage of aligning input and output in what information is concerned, integration and coordination between various system parts.

For all this to work and allow us to see beyond the horizon, all those involved need to give their best. Turning clever ideas into automated operations should only involve seamless integrations, top-notch software engineering, coordination, or the safest possible systems, cyber security – wise.

 

Putting good professionals, ethics and enthusiasm into automation

Working with the best is always the way to do it. Automation is yet another case of not affording to go cheap. Making sure you get what you need then paying the right price for a high-quality output. This is what all involved parties should go for.

Having ethics in mind is also advisable. Lately, the big players in the field started to aggregate around this topic. All the bright achievements in the field simply cannot turn evil, be it accidentally or by intent. With automation increasingly entering all our life sectors, it may soon show how our lives depend on it. Therefore, making sure people are protected, from privacy to fail safe embedded systems is a must.

Enthusiasm – because why not? Just think of how your current experience with technology looks like. You get a quality device that does its job. It feels great, you shape the way you do tasks around it, it makes life easier… True, many such devices are unnecessary complicated of late. But think of the most intuitive gadget you use, of its use, of how thrilled you are sometimes with it. In most of the cases the hassle users face has more to do with economics and the market policies. The better the competition, the more things would evolve in the right direction.

To reach a conclusion, always remember to be very serious about your automation related endeavors. Apps, software, IoT or IIoT, always choose the right software partner. Make sure all details are in place, the coding is clean, the project coherent and consistently approached.

Contact us for any information you may need. Our software engineers are looking forward for your questions!

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Tech

We dived into i-scoop’s guide to Industry 4.0, a massive and comprehensive material which prompted out the following highlights.

What is Industry 4.0?

Although you may find the definition everywhere on the net, the guide signals that some misunderstandings in relation to this concept are still common.

The term is often shortened to I4.0 or simply I4, and it originates “from a project in the high-tech strategy of the German government, which promotes the computerization of manufacturing” (Wikipedia).

However, currently the concept (revived in 2011 at the Hannover Fair), went beyond the manufacturing field. We are now taking about “various forms of manufacturing, the end-to-end digital supply chain and the final destination of all manufacturing, regardless of the number of intermediary steps and players”.

Industry 4.0 to its full extent is a continuously updated concept. Its core consists of transferring industrial “autonomy and autonomous decisions to cyber-physical systems and machines, leveraging information systems”. It involves embedding digital technology into the industrial assets involved in any part of the merchandise cycle. From raw materials to the end customer, services included, Industry 4.0 counts on “a connected environment of data, people, processes, services, systems and IoT-enabled industrial assets”.

Such a connected medium means dynamism, real time, increased responsiveness and an instant propagation of demand across all levels. No more overproduction, no more lack of supply, and the real time demand should get an immediate response in the global system. This sistem also solves other requirements and/or incidents with maximum efficiency.

With Industry 4.0, production would align itself with demand, distribution/sales and customer feedback, in a seamless system. Machines would “dialogue” trough data streams, while humans would intervene to OK decisions pointed out by the most accurate insights. And the universal language is data, while the communication means is digital.

 

Industry 4.0 Keywords

When speaking of Industry 4.0, a few essential keywords are:

Integration/Convergence

Real-time

Connectivity

IoT (Internet of Things)

Embedded

Sensors

Analytics

Big Data

Networks

Digital Infrastructure

HMI (Human Machine Interface)

Autonomous

Smart systems

Cyber Security

 

Step by step, towards a major structural change that will reshape society

Due to the major societal implications and to the novelty of the hyper connected, responsive production system, the specialists expect that full implementation of Industry 4.0 would reshape society.

There is quite a lot to be done until having a fully functional globally connected environment. Integrating divergent needs, geographical and economic considerations, accomplishing the infrastructure that would support such a construction – here are just a few examples of what needs to be done.

You can further explore i-scoop’s guide to see what vertical and horizontal integration mean. Also, check out various definitions of the concept. You may see what international consulting bodies put their minds together to establish the best solutions in this directions, relevant findings in this field and many other interesting details.

Just save some (considerable) time, and start reading!

And remember the key role played by software solution companies (just like we are), in helping companies join this movement, which incidentally is… our common future.

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Tech

Originated in Germany, Industry 4.0 translates as “a holistic automation, business information, and manufacturing execution architecture to improve industry with the integration of all aspects of production and commerce across company boundaries for greater efficiency”, according to Automation ISA.

From this starting point, the source article delves into the history of Industry 4.0 initiative. The Industry 4.0 initiative is part of a 10-point high-tech German strategic plan, created in 2006 and continued in 2010 by introducing the High-Tech Strategy 2020. Science and industry need to cooperate, in order to turn knowledge into skills.

Creating networks that incorporate the entire manufacturing process and convert factories into smart environments involves linkages. Linkages such as “smart machines, warehousing systems, and production facilities that feature end-to-end integration, including inbound logistic, production, marketing, outbound logistics, and service”.

Real-time data, a key element in the Industry 4.0 chain of operations

Real-time information enables strong decisions, based on insights. When it comes to production, it enables a superior reactivity and responsiveness in what production chain materials and operations are concerned.

Also, Industry 4.0 is based on asynchronous manufacturing.  This requires that the components in the production flow are able to use “auto identification technology to inform each machine and operator what needs to be done to produce the customized end product at each step of the production process.”

Based on real-time field data, the machines can be rapidly configured so they would adapt to customer specifications and other commands inherent to the production operations.

The collected data also serves as prime material for a range of analytics. These provide a bonus post real-time advantage to those in charge. By analyzing the data, such systems provide recommendations on improving performance and productivity.

Using embedded intelligence at all levels, the advanced cyber-physical systems (CPS) save “significant cost, providing greater flexibility and improved reliability.”

What binds together this new, developing industrial landscape is a series of software solutions that allow for the data to be collected and processed. Furthermore, the insights become recommendations. The decisions then turn into commands that go back into the cycle, driving modified, optimized operations.

 

Standards emerge, as well as a worldwide agenda

With separate, but similar Industry 4.0 agendas in countries such as Germany, China, Japan and/or others, a sum of specific standards emerge. These standards require harmonization, if they are going to work seamlessly at a global level, regardless of the physical area where the industrial processes involved take place.

Future automation systems must adopt open source multivendor interoperability software application and communication standards similar to those that exist for computers, the Internet, and cell phones. Industry 4.0 demonstrations acknowledge this by leveraging existing standards, including the ISA-88 batch standards, ISA95 enterprise-control systems integration standards, OPC UA, IEC 6-1131-3, and PLCopen.

Process automation is at the core of this plan. It becomes more and more present with each industry entity that joins this trend. The Industry 4.0 vision of the future factory joins together advanced technology hardware and brilliant software solutions, for a flawless functionality.

We are getting there with each software solution. Producers can unload more and more of their operations onto the digital, be it monitoring operations, management, coordination or others.

Call us for software solutions partnerships – we build the software you need for going one step further into the Industry 4.0!

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Tech

5G links to Smart Manufacturing, which links to Industry 4.0. In fact the last two may be seen as one and the same thing.


Smart manufacturing and the Smart Factory is a broad category of manufacturing with the goal of optimizing the manufacturing process. Smart manufacturing is the process that employs computer controls, modeling, big data and other automation to improve manufacturing efficiencies.

Source


Although some big players are still reticent, important 5G promoters continue to develop this technology. Moreover, hands-on demos illustrate its key qualities. Continuous process monitoring is one of the areas 5G should bring shorter lead-times, while returning higher yield.

We took a look at one article occasioned by this year’s Industrial Manufacturing Show held in Chicago:


Industry 4.0 will rely on increasingly fast, secure, and often wireless, data transfers to optimize operations, increase automation and mitigate risk in manufacturing environments.

 

Potential 5G early adopters


Various sensitive industries that would highly benefit from a reduction in the production errors are potential early adopters.


The 5G article mentions the aeronautical industry and the manufacturing industry – when focusing on the production of sophisticate components.


The scope here is to make the collecting and processing of the sensor data, as well as the action of cutting control, take place in under one millisecond.


Research has pointed out that for this type of demands, “5G and cellular wireless can deliver, with its ultra-low latency and high reliability”.

 

What does 5G mean for industrial production?


As mentioned above, no network solutions before 5G have been able to provide instant monitoring and adjustment during production.


An extra benefit is that by storing production and sensor data for each manufactured product, the 5G supported manufacturing enables real-time digital twins. Whenever needed, this data is available and ready to serve in research, analysis, and risk assessment, or to answer other possible demands.

 

While waiting for 5G future developments


As our colleague Ionel Petrut, Project Manager at Lasting Software, mentioned in his presentation held this year for the SACI conference (IEEE 12th International Symposium on Applied Computational Intelligence and Informatics, SACI 2018, Timisoara, Romania):

 

The Internet of Things had a very big impact on the technology as we know today. One important aspect, not yet standardized, is the way in which objects connect to the network to function together. In particular, in the medical field, the Internet of Things faces a high number of technical limitations, most of them related to the electromagnetic emissions.

Until the 5G network will create the infrastructure for sensors to directly connect to the Internet, the connection through Bluetooth Low Energy remains the most suitable solution for Internet of Things connectivity.

 

We prove our software engineering skills and professional commitment by mastering the current technologies involved in the projects we are part of. But we also keep an eye on the latest developments, dreaming of the bold new world of fully deployed IoT capabilities.

 

Contact us for consultancy and partnerships – the future awaits!

 

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