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What the 4th industrial revolution will mean for British manufacturing

As digitalisation now follows the automation of production, the goals are to increase productivity and efficiency, speed and quality.

A vision of tomorrow's manufacturing: Products finding their way independently through the production process. In intelligent factories, machines and products communicate with each other, cooperatively driving production. This is what Industry 4.0 is: the road to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Industry is playing an increasingly important role worldwide. It is considered a driver for innovation, growth, and social stability. At the same time, however, competition is growing more intense. Customers demand new, high-quality products and customized offerings at ever shorter time intervals. In addition, it is necessary to continually increase productivity. And only those who can make do with less energy and fewer resources will be able to cope with the growing cost pressure.

These challenges can be overcome. The solution lies in merging the virtual and real production world, in innovative software, and in automation and drive technologies as well as services. These will reduce time to market, make production more efficient and flexible – and help industrial companies retain their competitive edge.


The Digital Enterprise

Digitalization future of manufacturing

The seamless integration of data along the industrial value chains will gain more and more in importance, becoming a key criterion for the survival of developing / manufacturing companies. At Siemens we aim to provide our customers with a comprehensive portfolio of hardware and software products which enable the comprehensive integration of data from development, production and suppliers. The complete digital representation of the entire physical value chain is our ultimate goal. We call the solution platform which we created for this purpose "Digital Enterprise".

Under this term the Digital Factory product portfolio already smoothly connects major parts of the product and production life cycle today. Powerful Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software, for example, allows us to develop and optimize new products on an entirely virtual basis. In the real manufacturing world the Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) concept, which has proven its worth for about 20 years now, ensures the efficient interoperability of all automation components. The TIA Portal, for example, already enables significant time and cost savings in engineering.

Digital Factory Picture Maserati

In close cooperation with our partners within Siemens we provide a large and unique portfolio of PLM software tools and industrial automation and drive technology tailored to meet individual customer requirements in various discrete industrial areas.

In addition, our customers can rely on our commitment to the long-term development of their businesses. Protecting our customers' investments now and in the future – a particularly important consideration in the software business – is one of the major pillars of our business strategy. And when it comes to shaping the future of industry, Digital Factory is a driving and trendsetting force which joins with its partners worldwide in proven leading-edge technologies to increase productivity and protect a competitive edge.

 

 

 

 

 

The future of manufacturing

Much of the technological progress highlighted here already hints at the smart factory of the future, an environment we are told will operate using higher levels of autonomy through distributed decision making.  Higher levels of distributed intelligence will be made possible through miniaturised processors, storage units, sensors, and transmitters that will be embedded in all conceivable types of machines, unfinished products and materials, as well as smart tools and new software for structuring data flows.  Industry 4.0 makes use of embedded technology and refers to this as Cyber Physical Systems that have both a computational element and physical interaction with the real world.  This will be a long-term programme of more than 20 years and achieving it will require the elimination of data and media discontinuities.  Industrial software will be central to this, with Digital Enterprise Concepts conjoining product and production lifecycles.

Germany’s National Academy of Science and Engineering (aca-tech) believes deploying these new technologies and processes will lead to a 30 percent increase in industrial productivity and as it points out, deploying CPS technology could revolutionise not only production but mobility and healthcare too.

In the UK, the potential benefit of robotics and autonomous systems have been recognised too and will feature more in technology investments made by government to progress national capabilities.  This was highlighted in the 2013 Policy Exchange publication Eight Great Technologies by The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, but arguably takes a broader technological view than the more production specific work of Forschungs Union.

Automation has progressed well beyond the simple control of machines, infrastructure and production processes.  Its next steps are about flexibility - rapidly adjusting machinery and plants to accommodate new products. Many of the technologies needed for Industry 4.0 exist and include the Internet, Profinet as a standardised data connection, simulation software and rapid centralised engineering tools such as the Siemens’ TIA Portal which builds on the company's long-standing approach to Totally Integrated Automation - integrating all automation and drive components efficiently through open interfaces which maximise flexibility.  Security, safety, engineering, data management and communication are all central topics of this integration today and will be shaped even more in the future by the principles of Industry 4.0.

In essence, Industry 4.0 will involve the technical integration of CPS into manufacturing and logistics and the use of the Internet of Things and Services in industrial processes. This will have implications for value creation, business models, downstream services and work organisation.  Siemens believes Industry 4.0 will be key to integrating product and production lifecycles but users today can already benefit from foundation technologies such as industrial networks, sensors and software tools that enable the digital manufacturing enterprise.


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