Industry 4.0 and the unstoppable rise of automation is redefining manufacturing processes once and for all. Manufacturers are presented with the challenge of updating and digitising their systems as a means of future-proofing their businesses. Failure to do so risks them falling behind their customer’s demands, says Scott Fawcett, managing director, Essentra Components

Digitisation, automation and data collection are the key principles of Industry 4.0 that manufacturers must align themselves with. By doing so, manufacturers can improve efficiencies while keeping costs low and maintaining a quality customer experience. As one of the leading suppliers and manufacturers of essential component solutions, Essentra Components is one of many manufacturers just starting out on its Industry 4.0 evolution.

Smart planning

For Essentra Components, the main business areas that are incorporating automation can be split into three separate areas; smart planning, smart machines and smart data. For smart planning, the company is using cutting edge demand planning software to determine lot-sizes and replenishment points into its ERP system.

This process then releases demand into a sophisticated scheduling tool, which has the capacity to organise work most efficiently according to a wide range of criteria, such as avoiding material or colour changes. This automated process all connects to the company’s main production monitoring system.

Smart machines

Essentra has incorporated a remote access capability on its machines to enable external machine engineers to diagnose faults, reducing potential downtime periods. The company is currently developing a process so that technicians can have access to troubleshoot processing issues remotely and make actual modifications to the process via their smart phone.

Smart data

Smart data is another key area of automation for manufacturers. Essentra Components’ production monitoring software now has a direct link to its range of 20 Sumitomo Demag machines. This process captures real time overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) information, which not only helps the systems maintain the required performance levels, but also offers invaluable data around where there is room for improvement.

Automation and Industry 4.0 is completely redefining out-dated processes and will help support the longevity of a business. It is a particularly exciting time for the manufacturing industry and businesses must respond to these technological developments and ensure they are meeting the ever-changing demands of their customers.

Read this article in full in the upcoming December/January 2018 edition of Factory Equipment!