Industry 4.0 : Change is Inevitable!

29 May 2017

Big Data and AI (artificial intelligence) are changing the manufacturing sector making it safer, faster, and potentially error free. Managing Director, Lincoln Electric, S Sundarram expounds on these trends.

Big Data and AI will play a huge role in Industry 4.0 as the 4th industrial revolution will have the following essential elements.

Acquisition of vast amounts of data from every source—machines, products and objects, grids, and even entire cities
Integration of all this data into a data-base for easy extraction and analysis
Analysis of the data with arti cial intelligence programmed to learn by itself
Decision making and action in a large number of cases without human intervention

Managing Director, Lincoln Electric, S Sundarram states, “In 15–20 years from now, our industrial networks will be IoT and AI enabled. Big data will network our machines, products, employees, suppliers and customers in ways we cannot even imagine. And 20 years from today people will be wondering how the industry survived in the ‘stone age’ (before 2020) without ‘all this’.”

Adoption benefits

IoT, Big Data and AI are eventually going to be the norm in all processes of manufacturing. Sundarram believes that it is only a question of time before everyone catches on. His company, Lincoln Electric, manufactures welding machines that are IoT enabled. Explaining how this helps his customers, he elucidates, “A major vehicle manufacturer prefers vendors having welding data for the products sold to them. So one of their vendors bought our welding machines, which is IoT enabled. This enabled him to capture all process data relating to every single weld made and store it in the cloud. Having this feature helped him increase his share of busi- ness with the OEM as he can produce this data whenever the OEM asks.”

The downside

As with any new trend seen lately, the feared job losses are a reality. “IoT and AI will bring about changes where machines will not have to be manually manned all the time. However, the consequence will be a series of new jobs emerging to match the demand for new skill- sets,” says Sundarram.

Future forward

Sundarram avers that even today there are different solutions for different industries. “This tells us that going forward there will be differ- ent applications of these new technologies in the future. As an example, laser tracking of weld seams could be critical in industries where the gaps are variable from unit to unit. However, today’s robot would be impossible to ‘teach’. But in the future an AI enabled robot could learn from the vast database of supplies received from a particular vendor, what the variability is likely to be and also learn what the best welding parameters are to use.”

Another example he gives is of the automotive industry where takt time is critical, “The machine could send out a signal for a potential interruption—an overheated torch, a contact tip wearing too quickly, or several other things, so that preventative measures are taken and downtime avoided,” he continues. All in all, it is clear that Big Data, AI and IoT are here to stay!

Source: CII Manufacturing Pulse Newsletter May 2017

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