Siemens predicts that industrial IT and software will grow at an average of eight percent year-on-year, or double the rate estimated for the relevant overall market. In the future, this software expansion will be critical to enabling customers to simulate, test, and manufacture products using a single integrated database. (Source: Siemens Industry)
Nice story, Al. Whether it's called 4.0 or something else, Russwurm is certainly right that a revolution is occurring in manufacturing and production technology. The systems are so smart, they don't always need advanced programmers on the customer side. Just as personal computer owners don't need to know the technology under the computer's hood, plant engineers don't necessarily need to know everything about the technology developed for their plants.
Al, while this is an interesting concept, CAE vendors will tell you that completely automating decision and optimization processesd is not really doable. Chess computers play a game which has very strict rules and a single goal. This is not the case in manufacturing. I am not saying it cannot be done, but it may not be desirable.
Many years ago (1980s) I worked for Link Simulation Systems. One of the product lines was industrial plant simulators. These were originally for training. We found, though, that the math models were so precise that we could use them for optimization and prediction. The application at the time was with continuous manufacturing processes. By just running the math model we could tell the plant manager what the effect of changes in feedstock would be and he could then look at ways to optimize the process to get a desired result.
Naperlou, I agree that the chess computer is really not achievable. But it does serve as a useful way to think about use of advanced algorithms, especially decision making loops, could transform manufacturing in the future. Putting machines into a low power or sleep mode is an example where decision making algorithms could be implemented to dramatically reduce energy usage.
Elegant software can have the greatest impact. It is amazing how efficient systems can get with well written software, that is versus the brute force method of increasing processing power. But, I fear there are dwindling numbers of programmers capable of such feats.
If this is the buzz of the Hannover Fair, which has miles of industrial exhibits, and if they are calling it the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it must be big. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
With the latest technological advancements such as cloud computing, BYOD, and increased usage of mobile devices, an industrial revolution was bound to occur. It's relieving to know that they're setting an industrial standard for this purpose as it would greatly assist organizations by presenting them with an industrial baseline.
This trend really is the next level of computerization for intelligent manufacturing machines and subsystems. Thirty years ago, the microprocessor revolutionized manufacturing by replacing mechanical controls with software and servos. This next step, which will take to develop, will enable a much higher level of machine-to-machine control and software capable of making decisions on a supervisory level that isn't possible now. Will be interesting to watch this unfold.
Al, this one is a real eye-opener for me. I spent the better part of the day in a machine shop watching as a machining center "cut" prototype parts for a device designed by my team in Atlanta. We used as CAD software Solid Works and did the simulation using COMSOL. Hard to believe I "grew up" on a drafting table, with a slide rule, a pencil and pad. Boy have times changed. This Industry 4.0 is new a ballgame even compared to the technology existent today. Great post and thanks for keeing us up informed.
I, too, used a slide rule and a drafting table when I got out of school, bobjengr (although, even then, the slide rule was being replaced by TI-30s). I actually still have my old slide rule. It's a far cry from technologies like these. I've shown my slide rule to many people under 30, and they usually say something like: "I've heard about these but I've never actually held one in my hands."
Marine mussels and their interaction with the ocean environment has inspired a breakthrough in developing a nontoxic coating for organic electronic components that also could speed up the manufacturing process.
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