Smart manufacturing or Industry 4.0 is all about digitization, with a focus on boosting efficiency and competitive edge. According to data on Resulting-It, over 80% of manufacturers admit they will invest in digital technologies to increase productivity. Over the last decade, manufacturers have found themselves in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0.
This revolution features intelligent automation, cloud computing, data exchange, and the Internet of Things. Not to mention, blockchain is already disrupting the sector, thus improving the quality of the manufacturing process. It’s worth noting other elements of smart manufacturing or Industry 4.0 are likely to emerge as technology continues to advance. Keep reading to understand smart manufacturing and how blockchain fits in.
Integration Of IoT In Factories
The role of IoT in Industry 4.0 evolution is to transform production plants into smart factories. When manufacturers deploy IoT sensors to interconnect the shop floor and sales digitally, the data collected promotes transparency throughout the manufacturing process. Typically, IoT sensors measure movement, pressure, moisture, heat, humidity, and vibration within the factory. Then process, store, and analyze the data in real-time. The information IoT systems collect can be stored in the factory’s private network or over public networks built in the cloud.
However, data management, integrity, and privacy are a major concern for manufacturers looking to integrate IoT into their factories. And that’s where Blockchain technology comes in. The decentralized nature of blockchain makes it impossible for hackers to steal data. Blockchain is also encrypted and users can always create smart contracts to validate information when involved parties meet certain conditions.
Robotics In Production Lines
Automation in factories is improving at a rapid speed, thanks to analytics and digital control. For instance, manufacturers can automate production lines by integrating IoT sensors into collaborative robots to promote efficiency. Automating the conveyor system is also possible if you’re looking to speed up packaging, labeling, and wrapping. Through automation, conveyor solutions can produce high ROI within a short time-frame.
Besides deploying IoT sensors, manufacturers can leverage blockchain to automate maintenance of sophisticated factory equipment to reduce downtime. To automate machine maintenance, factory managers need to add service and installation documents of their equipment to the blockchain record. Doing so allows the blockchain to automate scheduled maintenance and payment. Ideally, machines listed on the blockchain trigger service requests when they require maintenance. They then produce smart contracts for replacements or repairs done.
Adoption of Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology is advancing every day. For example, additive manufacturing equipment can improve surface texture in plastic products by using pressure, heat, or vapor. These devices also add color to the finished product. 3D printing is also useful in fabricating metal.
While additive manufacturing guarantees the production of high-quality products, manufacturers can improve quality assurance using blockchain. Blockchain ledgers help create immutable documents of the production process and quality checks automatically. Each product modification, quality checks, and transaction are tagged uniquely on the blockchain database.