For years, we have been talking about the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on infrastructures or on the power industry, under the name Smart Cities.
Today, we are talking about the impact of digital transformation applied to the goods production industry, what we also call Industry 4.0.
This fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the way markets operate and, therefore, all actors in those forced to be part of it (companies, suppliers, legal and regulatory framework, investors, customers, etc.). This is a global change.
The Industry 4.0 consists of digitizing of productive processes in factories through the the interaction of the artificial intelligence with current production processes and the optimization of the existing resources.
This way the value is generated: transforming traditional production processes to make them more efficient and flexible.
The so-called Smart Factories are the result of the interconnection and communication among machines, processes and technological systems, along the entire production chain. This implies the reengineering, automation and robotization of almost total existing production and logistics processes.
The opportunity offered by the Industry 4.0 through digitization is to maximize our production plant to maximize revenues.
Maval has been implementing industrial digitization solutions, based on Siemens SIMATIC IT technology, for many years.
Behind this big change, there is the need to satisfy the very last On Demand customer needs, always changing by its continuous interaction with Internet.
This revolution will change communication between organizations and their customers, and therefore will change how customers interact with goods and expectations they may have regarding more personalized products and services. This direct communication will allow a better understanding of who our customers are and what they need.
However, this technological revolution in the industry also has a considerable impact on workers. There is much speculation about whether jobs will be destroyed or whether robots will replace people. It is difficult to predict what the jobs of the future will be since many of them do not exist yet.
Any process capable of being automated, will become so. Therefore, machines and robots will run most of the work today still manual, repetitive and monotonous.
People or workers will perform work on designing solutions, programming and developing software, management and maintenance.
Most of these skilled and specialized jobs will be framed within the Automation, Information Technology and Robotics sectors.
The interaction of machines with people will continue to be necessary: machines provide us with data but the interpretation and elaboration of information remains a human task. Information serves absolutely no purpose if we do not know what to do with it.
Along this digital integration of information, communications should be considered no longer linear; the information flow is cyclical and continuous, from different sources and locations.
What are the benefits from the point of view of the Industrial Transformation?
For the past 20 years, MAVAL has designed, developed and implemented turn-key automation and industrial digitization solutions for industrial projects in sectors as different as, food and beverage, chemistry and pharmaceutical, paper industry and aeronautics.
Each project is different, although most of the benefits are common:
- Real-time knowledge of what our customers want
- More efficient and integrated production processes, achieving massive and uninterrupted production
- Reduction of defects and losses in factory chains
- More flexible and precise productive processes because the product is adaptable to the needs at each moment, achieving a higher quality and personalized production
- Reduced manufacturing times both in the design of new products and in its commercialization, by minimizing downtimes and interruptions
- More efficient decision-making. Reduced reaction times and decision-making thanks to real-time and constant flow of data and information
- Better asset management and cost savings: automation requires less unskilled staff, less raw material stocks and a higher energy efficiency
But not all are advantages. What are the associated challenges to be considered?
- The cost of the investment is high, especially at the beginning, although the Digital Transformation can be done in a scalable way.
- Great technological dependence on the production process because of the high specialization needed.
- Risk of technological obsolescence. The risk is high andit has to be considered in the calculation of the Return on Investment and its amortization.
- The interconnection of these production processes implies a flow of information and data transmission, which in addition to be continuous is much greater in volume. It is also necessary to consider the security of communications and data, as well as the intelligent analysis of the information.
- New professional profiles are going to be more specialized and it can be difficult to access them, which also require a higher remuneration.
Although it may seem paradoxical, the most immediate challenge within the Digital Transformation of Productive Industries is the Human Transformation: each organization has to decide how to address this change, has to define the transformational model and to choose technologies that better meet their productive needs, in order to make the investment.
To do this, it will have to consider how it is going to manage it in the most appropriate way and how it is going to adapt itself to this change of model since every organization has to exit reinforced, more responsive, proactive and predictive.
Our team is an expert in process automation and control systems, industrial communications, machine vision, integration of production management system MES/MOM and product lifecycle management (Siemens PLM).
For our trajectory, we are aware that each of our clients has different evolution needs in terms of Industrial 4.0 and we focus on designing the best project for each of them, according to their reality and circumstances.
So important is to have a smooth migration, as to get a successful project in the short and medium term.
If Industries do not properly understand correctly the changes, opportunities and risks involved in Industry 4.0, they risk achieving the opposite effects to those desired, reducing even the competitiveness achieved and end up losing market share in the nearest future.
It is essential to understand what the best pace to adapt to this Digital Transformation.
Nowadays, changes are getting faster and faster so many industries run the risk of remaining obsolete in a short time if they move forward at an unsuitable speed rate.