How Industry 4.0 Technologies Are Disrupting Manufacturing Engineering
Manufacturing engineering deals with working on integrated systems, designed and operated with an aim to produce economically competitive, high quality products. As these systems incorporate a wide range of robotics, machine tools, complex computer aided network and material handling equipment, the practice of combining industry 4.0 digital processes tends to leave an obstreperous impact on manufacturing engineering design.
Industry 4.0 comprises of a series of modern technologies synthesized from various disciplines that includes internet of things (IoT), large scale machine to machine (M2M), cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR). These prevalent technologies have not only contributed towards an increased automation procedure but have also enhanced communication practices allowing workers to have more autonomy over operational functions with a more preferable level of analysis and self-troubleshooting.
What drives Industry 4.0
As Industry 4.0 starts to establish its position in the manufacturing sector with its application of modern technology, engineers are soon embracing them to meet the evolving consumer demands, producing high quality products and building a wider customer base with brand loyalty. The following technologies are included in industry 4.0:
- Internet of Things: Internet of things allows users to connect all manufacturing devices in its ecosystem with the internet, allowing them with a user sensor technology and tracking operational performance with full command overall manufacturing system and devices. Internet of thing significantly impacts manufacturing engineering as it open doors to endless virtual opportunities. With its esteemed functions it gives a complete control over all systems right on their fingertips making it easier for them to conduct operational procedures and saving them from tedious tasks of managing equipment.
- Engineering Simulations: Engineering simulations deal with the use of virtual reality along with augmented reality in order to create 3D- images which are perfectly realistic and to reduce monotony with short time to market. It allows users to delve into a new environment with the help of head set which comes in handy in giving workers training, maintaining systems, expert support and in complex assembly.
- Add-on Manufacturing: These add-ons encompass 3D and 4D printing, providing engineers with more flexibility to manufacture products which take previously took more time and labor. These tools allow workers to create realistic blueprints, forms and diagrams fast and with minimum labor required. These add-ons are highly acceptable by forward thinking engineers as they plan on meeting consumer demands with manufacturing products meant to meet unique consumers preferences.
- Big data and Analytics: Big data and analytics as the name implies deals with collecting, analyzing and storage of massive amounts of data in one location aided by the internet of things (IOT). Big data remains vital for performance optimization at every level of development. It helps to provide a better level of analysis of consumer trends directly impacting what engineer make and how the make them. This wide collection of data helps to create changes in engineering designs for future versions.
Virtual & Augmented Reality in Manufacturing Engineering
Virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) lie in the same line when we talk about Industry 4.0 technology. They both provide a virtual experience in an immersive environment however; their difference lies in the experience they provide to the user.
When used for manufacturing purposes, it disrupts the entire system by bringing a lot of benefits to workers which not only saves time but also provides a seamless flow of operations. Workers could use AR wearables to measure parts, determine unsafe working conditions, or even visualize a finished product or structure. Its beauty lies in the variety of digital characters, images and content that it provides. It also gives workers an opportunity to overlay text, stats, and information relevant to the worker’s current task.
Just hearing about such technologies may sound futuristic, but these technologies are on the verge of spreading like a virus, they will be common everywhere not just in a particular industry. Augmented reality glasses are forecasted to reach around 19.1 million units by 2021, and when combined with VR devices, could hit 59.2 million units.
- 3D CAD & Virtual Reality: By the virtue of industry 4.0 modern technology, new tools are being produces to help 3D CAD users to step into the world of Extended reality (XR) that is nothing but a 3D experience through a viewing apparatus.
- Augmented Reality (AR): An AR model works in the same way, but the headset used for this purpose is transparent. An AR headset enables workers to see their physical environment like their machinery, desk or office in its natural setting. It also allows workers to use their hands instead of controls while they view and manipulate their virtual 3D CAD model.
Benefits of Using an AR model in Manufacturing Engineering
Below are some ways through which manufacturers can leverage augmented reality:
- Hands on Training: When putting newbies or new talent on the floor, the major issue faced by managers is their unfamiliarity with equipment, machinery, new technology and necessary protocols. With the right use of AR devices, these inexperienced personnel can be trained and taught significant procedures without the use of any additional resources at all times.
- Product Design and Development: Constructing, processing and prototyping complex designs can be a tedious and a labor-intensive task. These tasks come with continuous revisions back and forth which are both time consuming and resource intensive. AR tends to eradicate some of the tedium of these processes by augmenting and enhancing the task at hand, and streamlining collaboration and communication between clients and workers. Also allowing executives to keep an eye on designs being manufactured in real time. Workers can receive proper guidance this way reducing the amount of revisions and optimizing productivity.
- Complex Assembly: Manufacturing on modern terms requires thousands of small pieces and components being put together in complex assemblies. For instance, consider the manufacturing of an airline. When a Boeing 747-8 is being constructed, tasks are reduced with the help of a smart glasses in a Skylight platform. This technology helps in providing relevant instructions to technicians with voice commands and huge bar code readers, it results in saving time and increases efficiency. With no room of error, airlines make sure they built their machines with highest standards.
The idea of deploying modern technology tools offered by industrial 4.0 technology in the manufacturing engineering is to optimize performance while reducing time leads and labor-intensive resources. Just a few years ago the concepts of AR and VR looked something that came out of science fiction, but has now become a reality and is expected to grow immensely in upcoming years.