Industry 4.0 is a logical consequence of technological development. Computers are getting smaller and cheaper all the time and in fact interfere with all aspects of our lives.
Technological development in business leads to a massive digital transformation. It is expected, that Industry 4.0 is going to unprecedentedly accelerate productivity increase and eliminate errors in the field of production. Digitalization had started at the field of life cycle of the product, especially in product design and supporting processes CAx (Computer-Aided Technologies), mainly CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing).
In the nearest future, the focus will shift on products, primarily on the way they are manufactured, i.e. on the production process and its organization. Modern computer tools are able to simulate the whole process, identify its optimal settings, use the setting in the physical production and initiate the real production process. This approach is completely based on a digital twin (DT - Digital Twin) when a physical object is represented in a digital format and virtual reality (VR- Virtual Reality). Apart from that, there is one newer and a very important aspect which appeared quite recently - cyber-physical systems (CPS - Cyber Physical Systems).
Never before we were able to manage and operate production devices with a digital interface. The most advanced of them are cyber-physical systems (CPS) directly interacting with digital twins (DT) and other cyber-physical systems (CPS) via M2M (Machine-to-Machine) communication.
A Smart Factory (SF) connects virtual world where physical processes are simulated and modelled with the physical world where cyber-physical systems (CPS) - their physical and smart components- communicate, cooperate and manage each other. In Smart Factory, decisions are made and processes set at the machinery level by means of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. And this is a real challenge, because real physical interactions are much more complex as their digital images represented by models established thorough their digital twin (DT).
A Smart Factory (SF) goes beyond limits set by CAx systems. Virtual reality (VR) includes all aspects of production and supportive processes (such as quality assurance), organisation and simulation of cyber-physical systems (CPS). Simulation of virtual reality (VR) through digital copies of real physical systems and environment where these systems work and interact together, makes us constantly search for optimal ways of product manufacturing. We use this strategy at each level: functionality, energy consumption, costs, time, waste, environment and health.
Moreover, the most important accelerator defining the paradigm of a smart factory (SM) is individualization of products and services. In the interconnected world, products are manufactured on the basis of individual requests acquired from a vast cloud market. Business partners involved in the production process interact among themselves in the real time and through the extended supply chain. The result is that some traditional processes (such as long-term planning) lose their importance due to highly dynamic and quick business environment.
Production devices maintenance is one of the most important processes enabling this mode of functioning controlled by the unprecedented demands on high accessibility. After completing the digital phase of the production cycle - starting with modelling and simulation of the production cycle and ending with a digital transfer into digitally transformed factory - the real physical factory must be ready and above all, available for the production. It means, that production sources must be available any time and with no limitations.
PROCE55 for Industry 4.0
As we have mentioned above, production processes of a smart factory (SF) are modelled, simulated and optimized in virtual reality (VR). However, virtual reality (VR) cannot possibly reflect all aspects of physical reality to the full extend.
Differences between a real physical process and its optimal digital model reduce efficiency and quality. Visualization, monitoring and reporting combined with notification systems of early warning (EWS - Early Warning System) are therefore critically important.
While the production process is running according to an optimal plan and smart production lines work in fully automated regime, the operator’s intervention is not required. However, if there is some exemption, an immediate human (operator’s) intervention is required directly at the place. In order to make optimal decisions and take corrective action to solve the problem, an operator needs broad contextual information about a physical object involved in the production process - it can be the production line and its components, equipment, devices or robots.
Apart from solving exemptions, there are also other situations and events, when the operator needs to trigger partial or full manual operation of the whole production process or its phase. Typical examples are maintenance tasks and conflict solving. An operator needs immediate, full, contextual information directly at the place of the event. Usually, several informational sources are available. Some required information are available directly at the production line, but main information is stored in back-end systems connected with production lines due to the management of the processes. Back-end information systems ensure higher level of management (e.g. planning and processing of production contracts) and the production line carries out real tasks of production management at the lower level.
It is not possible to meet these requirements by means of traditional programming methods (coding & waterfall approach). It requires tools designed for agility from the very beginning (visual modelling and quick prototyping methods). Other problem in the mobile world are various operation systems, their frequent upgrades and mobile hardware platforms developing in rapidly increasing pace. All these difficult and sometimes even contradicting requirements can be met only by means of modern and really innovative software platform such as PROCE55.
Smart interaction (SI) is one of the aspects of mobilization of production processes and the first step towards Industry 4.0 in the field of classical (traditional) production with high investments into non-intelligent production assets. Such mobilisation modernizes older/rigid processes and includes them into smart factory (SF).
Although now it is not quite possible to give a detailed description of smart maintenance of the future, the key components of smart maintenance (Smart Maintenance) in the context of Industry 4.0 are known even today. They included prediction, remote diagnostics and repairs, activities directed by data collected from machinery and processes, work in the real time, mobility, cooperation and integration. East-Gate and PROCE55 application strategy complies with these trends.