Industry 4.0 also termed “Internet of Things” is the integration of industrial production with state-of-the-art information and communication technologies that are being researched and developed. It aims to is to enable full and smooth communication between man, machine and product.
The main factors are by way of horizontal integration to interlink both different process steps and different companies along the entire value chain. The vertical integration aims to connect individual part-systems of the production cells to form a single, holistically controllable production system.
What does 4.0 mean for the plastics industry?
When applied to plastics processing processes, the fourth industrial revolution allows the integration of suppliers and customers as well as the close interlinking of internal departments and processes.
Mass production of Individualized Parts
The largest scope for plastics processing lies in the production of individualized, customized parts and the shortening of development, start-up and set-up times. This allows even small batch sizes to be produced economically. With horizontal integration, the economical manufacture of individual, customized parts is possible.
For this to be possible, all elements involved in the value chain are designed for maximum adaptability and versatility and interlinked on the information side.
Efficient and Flexible Production
Vertical integration enables the acceleration of information forwarding and the use of all relevant information that allows the autonomous optimization of existing production processes.
Prediction of Process and Product Quality
The significance of the digital shadow of processing processes for the prediction and optimization of part quality and process flow is constantly increasing. Software tools will improve the prediction accuracy of quality forecasts and in turn enable optimization of the entire product life cycle.
Today companies are adopting a more digital-centric strategy to evolve and keep up with a workforce that is conversant with the use of digital tools so as not to lag behind or become obsolete. This Industry 4.0 digital upgrade will be the foundation for many exciting developments in the years ahead.