Automotive News' recent report on digital manufacturing ("Why the industry is all abuzz about '4.0' " Aug. 6) captured many examples of early success in the automotive industry. Most of the companies we speak to have been exploring Industry 4.0 in one way or another. The concept can deliver value across three pillars.
One is connectivity, getting the right data to the right people in real time. A lot of manufacturing plants operate with incomplete data, challenges in aggregating and delays in getting people to make timely decisions. How do we move from a world where we are relying on humans to make decisions based on aged data and opinion to where we can be more fact-based and prescriptive?
A second is intelligence or advanced analytics. We now have so much data, it's awfully hard for humans to make the best decisions — Industry 4.0 can help improve the quality of decision-making. We can leverage Big Data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop predictive analytics. Similarly, we can leverage advanced analytics to better understand the root causes of quality issues such as in paint shops.
The third pillar, flexible automation, is where the automotive industry shines. OEMs generally have been pushing the forefront of automation for quite a while. They are continuing to explore the next horizon of automation, and they are looking at how they can adopt use cases from the other two areas.
Automotive companies are very comfortable with automation, and they have been exploring collaborative robots along with having extensive experience in automated guided vehicles. Companies now are implementing predictive analytics use cases. The story's example of Renault's Dacia plant in Pitesti, Romania, demonstrates the detection of micro-level deviation and using it as a predictor of reliability.