Industry 4.0 is the term often used when referring to the fourth industrial revolution and encapsulates how the digital age will change manufacturing and enable the next generation of technology to transform industrial processes through connectivity. The meaning and definition of Industry 4.0 is still being refined, as it has many facets and nuances, but the evolution has begun. “Big Data” with advanced analytics is a central force behind Industry 4.0 bringing forth a constant stream of “Smart” products and systems – with proven economic benefits and higher quality finished goods.
A progressive path of data analytics, typically explained in three phases, is a key component of the Industry 4.0 model.
- Phase 1 is “Descriptive”, where data is used to formulate a deeper understanding of what occurred, capturing a digital footprint leading up to and including an event.
- Phase 2 is “Predictive”, which employs historical data, trending, and correlations to determine what is likely to happen next, providing foresight based on an understanding of interactions and pattern recognition.
- “Prescriptive”, phase 3, is where best actions are applied in real-time to optimize system performance and achieve the best result.
As “smart” ecosystems expand, a decrease in the number of experts across all process industries is beginning to decline. Experienced employees are retiring and leaving mills, leaving factories with fewer experts to handle not only complex daily operational needs, but the knowledge to guide conversions to implement change. Bridging the resource gap and achieving technology integration will be a difficult challenge, increasing the need to build or enhance partnerships. Operators and their trusted suppliers will need to work closer than ever to implement change and optimize solutions.
Kadant is embracing Industry 4.0 by leveraging new tools and applications. We have been a leader and innovator across many different industrial processes for decades, covering pulp and paper, packaging, metals, food, and others. Our skilled and experienced people have always pushed the envelope with custom-engineered solutions and product development, generating operating efficiencies our customers need to stay ahead in today’s rapidly changing environment. Our history has prepared us well for this endeavor.