Advancements in Factory Automation to Trigger Fourth Industrial Revolution

  • Digital twinning has now become an important part of product development landscape.
  • The implementation of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is carried out on a large scale.
  • AI and machine learning are going mainstream at an exponential rate.

Automation systems have become the backbone of the industrial production system. Industrial or factory automation is a vast field that requires immaculate integration of machinery, software, and information systems. It is essential to achieve increased production of superior quality goods at lower cost with increased flexibility and high accuracy.

The factors responsible for the rapid development of this market include the need for maturity of the industrial processing technologies, the expectation of high reliability in high volume production.

It consists of three levels, namely supervisor level, controller level, and field level that converse between themselves. The primary level of factory automation involves usage of systems such as human machine interface (HMI), industrial PC (IPC), and WLAN. Automation system can also be operated within the control level through HMIs, programmable logic controllers (PLC), and field bus (CAN).

In order to increase efficiency many companies are investing in the factory automation market. Factory automation market has been growing at a steady pace. Allied Market Research estimated that the factory automation market would reach $368 billion in 2025, growing at a CAGR of 8.8% from 2018 to 2025.

The factors responsible for the rapid development of this market include the need for maturity of the industrial processing technologies, the expectation of high reliability in high volume production. Furthermore, it is accountable for the surge in need for high product quality, progression in technology, and growing need for mass production with reduced operation cost. Factory automation impacts different segments of global market. Few of them are listed below.

·         Digital twins and industrial automation

Digital twining is the concept that enables creation of a virtual copy of a system or a machine. This has now become an important part of product development landscape. Optimized machine design, short changeover time, efficient commissioning, and smooth operations is guaranteed by digitalization of machineries and plants. Efficient production analysis and prompts predictive maintenance is enabled by integrating digital twin on factory floors.

·         Virtual reality and augmented reality

From manufacturing to consumer applications, the implementation of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is carried out on a large scale. Immense value in myriad forms is offered by integrating AR with other technologies. These technologies are one of the main factors that helped in revolutionizing product developments and complex production process.

By implementing AI, the manufactures can operate the process in real-time and support the product life-cycle management, which includes collaboration, process integration, automation monitoring, and diagnostics.

·         Improving accuracy with machine learning

AI and machine learning are going mainstream at an exponential rate. These technologies have already been integrated with segments such as customer relationship management, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), and Industry 4.0. Machine learning and data analysts offer a room for development for the manufacturing process. They are used to predict yield rates at different levels of supply chains. This greatly reduces the cost of raw materials and ensures brand quality. By implementing AI, the manufactures can operate the process in real-time and support the product life-cycle management, which includes collaboration, process integration, automation monitoring, and diagnostics.

·         The rise of smart industrial robots

One of the key drivers for the fourth industrial revolution is increase of presence of smart robots in the industrial sector. The advancements in the robotics have broadened the potential applications for smart industrial robots. With the help of modern robotics, a high-end vision system with cutting edge software can be easily programmed to automate different tasks and enable flexible manufacturing.

·         Advances in industrial cybersecurity

After digitalization, cyber security has advanced greatly in order to deal with the threats to the cloud data. This has greatly helped in addressing the vital requirements of industrial automation applications, plants, and equipment. All these factors relate to stringent constraints on system updates and network communication. Cyber security has embraced a hybrid approach to deal with the modern threats.

This approach includes rules-based analysis that allows manufacturers to leverage deep inspection as well as behavior-based anomaly detection that helps to identify would-be cyber threats using conventional cybersecurity approaches.  This process greatly helps in uncovering malware cyber attacks on the network.

Technology keeps on advancing steadily, transforming the nature of manufacturing and industrial operations. Modern industries are on the brink of revolution. With advancements in factory automation market, manufacturing and industrial operations would grow at an exponential rate thus leading to fourth revolution. After integration of automation with industrial process, it becomes efficient reliable, predictable, and transparent. New opportunities would be created in the automated manufacturing as new technologies are being developed.

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