Industry 4.0. You’ve almost certainly heard the term and may even be familiar with some of its characteristics. In this post, we’ll summarize those defining characteristics and look at how Industry 4.0 affects manufacturing as a whole and injection molding in specific.
What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 applies digital technology and connectivity to manufacturing. The defining characteristics of Industry 4.0 include:
- Increased use of sensors and monitoring technology — A major underpinning of Industry 4.0 is the use of sensors to monitor processes on a more intricate level.
- Data-driven operations and decision making — With more sensors comes more available data about a process. Manufacturers can use this data on a micro level to make adjustments in real-time and on a macro level to assess operations, performance and procedures.
- Smart, connected machinery — Connectivity is another tentpole of Industry 4.0. Machinery and the sensors that monitor it are connected through networking — whether hard-wired or Wi-Fi — and are able to communicate data to each other as well as to a central repository.
- Dashboards for remote access to data and operations controls — Digital technology enables managers and machine operators to make use of detailed, yet intuitive, dashboards to monitor performance.
Industry 4.0 Injection Molding
Industry 4.0 offers numerous benefits for manufacturing in general. After an overview of these benefits, we’ll look at how they can apply to injection molding.
- More informed decision making — The vast amount of data collected by Industry 4.0 technology means that managers and operators can make decisions backed by real-time metrics, rather than historical performance or OEM best practice guidance.
- More control over processes and outcomes — With access to finely detailed, real-time data, manufacturers are better able to control and fine-tune processes, creating greater accuracy, fewer manufacturing errors or defects, and more efficiency.
- Innovation through AI and ML — Artificial intelligence and machine learning both require large amounts of data to be effective — and Industry 4.0 facilitates this. These technologies have the potential to exponentially increase productivity based on real-time data and performance.
- Proactive maintenance — The more data available and the finer the details it provides, the more proactive facilities can be in identifying operational irregularities that may lead to equipment shutdowns.
- Always-on manufacturing, with or without third shifts — With remote access, dashboards and controls, processes can be monitored from off-site locations — even in other time zones. This means that an overnight shift at one facility can be monitored by a morning shift elsewhere in the world.
Industry 4.0 injection molding incorporates these benefits into the molding process, in the following ways:
- Greater control and accuracy in filling, packing and holding — With sensors that are better able to detect material temperature and flow rate, injection molding processes can be fine-tuned in real time to be more accurate. This ensures proper filling and holding, and reduces part defects and rejects.
- Automatic detection of errors — With smart manufacturing, Industry 4.0 can reduce the reliance on manual QC processes by detecting part errors in the cavity and automatically discarding defective pieces.
- Improved prototyping with 3-D printing and Industry 4.0 — Industry 4.0 also incorporates the vast improvements in 3-D printing technology over the last decade. With 3-D printers now able to use production-grade plastics to create more functional prototypes, designers are able to iterate and innovate more quickly and effectively, and with greater confidence in their decisions. In addition, 3-D printing can be suitable for low-volume production runs as an alternative to injection molding.
Injection Molding With Crescent Industries
At Crescent Industries, our reliance on a scientific approach to injection molding sets us apart in terms of quality and efficiency. The benefits of Industry 4.0 enable us to apply data to an even higher degree, advancing areas such as our decoupled molding approach and allowing us to offer you unparalleled quality and service. For more information about our capabilities, contact us today.
https://rjginc.com/industry4-0/ (competitor example)