Industry 4.0 envisions the smart factory of the future

GFMS rConnect Logo 042016
GFMS rConnect Logo 042016

Industry 4.0 brings together a constellation of intelligence and modern automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies. Chief among these are: adaptive cyber-physical systems, engineered from seamless integration of computational algorithms and physical components including machine tools.

The Internet of Things and Services is a system connecting any device or machine to the internet and/or with other devices, and enabling objects to become “smart” and to gather, analyse and exploit large amounts of data. The Internet of Things and Services is disrupting business models and giving rise to powerhouse new services. Pioneering the development of Industry 4.0 for manufacturing are research institutions like RWTH Aachen University and the Fraunhofer Institute of Production Technology as well as manufacturing solutions leader and research collaborator GF Machining Solutions.

Roberto Perez, head of Industry 4.0 at GF Machining Solutions said: “Our strategy focuses on industrial segments that share the challenges of consistently maintaining highest productivity, quality and accuracy in their manufacturing processes while optimising costs and increasing agility and flexibility amidst the market turmoil.

“At the same time, we must provide solutions for specific requirements, like the aerospace and medical industries’ need for surface integrity and process traceability. Our Industry 4.0 approach is to envision intelligent manufacturing solutions that will target fully predictive processes, which could be readily tuned to the best performance with respect to specific but fast-changing requirements faced by complex manufacturing businesses”.

Making those solutions possible is digitisation, the conversion of information into a digital format that can be understood by computer systems. Digitisation establishes the foundation for cyber-physical systems.

GF Machining Solutions’ machines have already some features of such systems, which are capable of sensing and acting in the physical world, and “thinking” in the cyber world. That “thinking,” which includes planning, analysing, modelling, memorising, combining, and optimising in the cyber world, can then be fed back into the physical world of manufacturing. Examples are machine tools with intelligent vision units or that are connected to measurement machines delivering in-process characterisation and error compensation, the GF Machining Solution’s T.R.U.E. (True Response to User Expectation) solution, and making self-optimising manufacturing cells, the ultimate stage in the Industry 4.0 vision.

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