i4.0 today




By Jay Gorajia, Director of Consulting, PCB Design and Manufacturing Services, Mentor-A Siemens Business

The pace of change and complexity of manufactured products continues to increase. The way products are designed and manufactured is causing the global manufacturing sector to have to evolve at a high rate of change. With accelerating global competition, extreme quality measures required by high-tech companies, a need to design anywhere and build anywhere, more demanding consumers, and shortened product development lifecycles, a sound digital factory strategy is more important than ever.

Technology and society are evolving at a pace that is simply too difficult for many organizations to keep up with. Retiring Cisco CEO John Chambers at the 2017 Cisco Live event delivered a dire prediction: “Forty percent of businesses in this room, unfortunately, will not exist in a meaningful way in 10 years,” adding that 70% of companies would attempt to go digital but only 30% would succeed. If this sounds overly dramatic, consider what ride sharing has done to the taxi business and to rental-car companies.

However, for those who successfully adapt new business models, the future is promising.

The way products are designed and manufactured is causing the global manufacturing sector to have to evolve at a high rate of change

General Motors and Lyft: New Business Model for Joint Development

Adapting to these changes requires new and innovative business models. One example is the joint development of a network of on-demand autonomous vehicles between General Motors and Lyft. This business model leverages GM’s deep knowledge of autonomous technology and Lyft’s ability to provide a broad choice of ride-sharing services. It means that GM can be a preferred provider of short-term use vehicles to Lyft drivers through rental hubs in various cities in the United States. Lyft drivers and customers can have access to GM’s portfolio of cars and OnStar services. This creates a richer ride-sharing experience for both driver and passenger. GM and Lyft also can provide each other’s customers with personalized mobility services and experiences through their respective channels.

“We see the future of personal mobility as connected, seamless, and autonomous,” said GM President Dan Ammann. “With GM and Lyft working together, we believe we can successfully implement this vision more rapidly.”

Many of the major OEMs also are investing in the ridesharing business model, including Daimler Investments, RideScout, Intelligent Apps, Moovel, and Car2Go.

Uber and Lyft inspired many niche copycats such as HopSkipDrive, Shuddle (both rides for kids), and Wheeliz (wheelchair accessible peer-to-peer car rentals).

LEGO and the On-Demand Business Model

The people at LEGO went through a process to reinvent the company, which began in 2004 and took 10 years. They launched LEGO Mindstorms, video games, and applications connected to their block systems that are more appealing to digitally savvy customers. LEGO became a market-leader integrating physical and digital play. They pioneered new ways of thinking about digital leadership enterprise-wide. They bolstered the enterprise IT platform. They crowd-sourced innovation and development of LEGO community platforms.

As companies make these changes, design and engineering are becoming more interdisciplinary and collaborative. The way we realize products, or the production of products, is also changing. Amazing technologies are emerging in automation with AI, additive technologies, and robotics. And finally, the way we evolve products – leveraging major developments in cloud, knowledge-based automation and data analytics – is changing. We use generative design to develop products to be produced by additive manufacturing that uses advanced robotics – and then learn from that process with data to make products even better.

With additive manufacturing, we are printing steel and are able to create the most amazing constructions. With solutions such as generative design and topology optimization, we have adopted nature’s way of “constructing” trees and plants and other living things. New cloud technologies allow us to analyze data and gain insights from feedback throughout the entire process.

Industry 4.0 Moves Down the Manufacturing Chain

The Industry 4.0 initiative and push for “smart” factories has helped to “democratize” advanced technology and capabilities, making them more available to Tier 2 and Tier 3 manufacturers and scaling manufacturing capacity and capabilities.

The resulting benefits include flexible order processing, efficient resource management, connected and reliable production, 100% traceability and quality assurance, self-optimizing manufacturing and production, consistent engineering, and digital continuity throughout the lifecycle of a product. This digital thread needs to include an ecosystem of partners working together to achieve true benefits to cost and quality, while managing schedule risk.

Some smart manufacturing tenants from Industry 4.0 are:

The ability of all players (machines, humans, smart factories, partners, etc.) to be connected.

The ability to collect and analyze data and make decisions in real time (by humans or AI).

Flexible adaptation of smart factories to changing market requirements.

The ability of systems to make decisions on their own (product aware manufacturing).

The ability of machines and humans to interface in a standardized way.

The ability to build a virtual representation of the real world (digital twin).

Infrastructure and Communications for Realizing the Digital Factory

The manufacturing industry has a long history of data collection. It includes logging the number of products produced at end of every hour or shift, manual logging of down time of machines, and manual logging of issues. All this manual collection consumes operator time risk of lack of accuracy, so machine vendors and factories started deploying sensors, counters and some progress was made. Then came the age of machine interfaces such as RS232/RS485 (serial port), parallel ports, and Ethernet (which was originally developed for debugging purposes, but added functionality). This led to a new electrical risk with PCs connections to SMT/PTH machines, causing electrical discharges, surges, etc.

Digital communication was the next challenge to address. Several standards were attempted 10 to 20 years ago such as IBM’s MAP and TOP, CAM (now used in automotive), and GEM-SECS, which became standard in semiconductor industry. These protocols standardize infrastructure and control, but not actual data content (which needs peer-to-peer agreement). The next generation, CAM-X, was network heavy, and complex machines were not supported completely. The standard was compromised because of the need for proprietary customization.

Using a standardized communication protocol is crucial to making a smart factory but has particular challenges such as machines with different formats, connections, and protocols and legacy machines. Different amounts of data are represented in different context, with varying accuracy and complexity. Machine downtime may be caused by material load error or parts out, which isn’t necessarily reflected in output.

Smart Factory Infrastructure

A truly smart factory system requires a communication protocol that uses normalized intelligent data. We need to be able to know the status of the operation at any given moment, for any given location – OEE, DPMO, etc. – and validate that the process runs in line with the plan. We also need to be able to perform root-cause analysis – if the actual differs from plan, we need to understand why. We also need to be able to predict how the process will act and proactively make adjustments.

Our solution needs to get the data, normalize it, and make it easily available. With the Valor IOT Manufacturing platform, we can create a digital twin of production; instant out-of-the-box KPI dashboards up to the factory level.

With the Valor IOT Manufacturing platform, we can create a digital twin of production; instant out-of-the-box KPI dashboards up to the factory level

Industrial Internet of Things

The Valor IOT Manufacturing network platform system is the gateway that connects the real world to the virtual world, assisting to create a digital twin of production and performance. It collects data from the various stations on the shop-floor as well as peripherals such as light towers, conveyers, and temperature sensors. The data is converted into a standard format – the Open Manufacturing Language (OML) – making it open to any application to subscribe to it.

The Valor IOT Manufacturing network boxes include some built-in KPI dashboards at the machine level, line level, and even factory level, for instant visibility of the operation.

The boxes don’t only collect data – they can also stop the machines if the application that consumes the data decides that there is an error or process failure. The boxes include built-in power backup to allow for safe shutdown and prevention of data loss in the event of power outage. They retain three days’ worth of data, so in the event of communication failure, nothing is lost.

With this kind of connected system, normalized manufacturing data is available for use by any application – whether it’s the ERP, analytics, PLM, MES, cloud applications, or home-grown applications. The applications simply need to subscribe to the relevant data pipe, and they can get the data – and only the relevant data, so bandwidth usage is optimized. The number of potential uses for this data is limited only by imagination.

In Summary

Industry 4.0 aims to provide a framework for addressing the challenges now inherent in modern manufacturing. These principles are designed to help a company go from manufacturing in isolated, optimized cells to a fully integrated manufacturing process that carries data and product flows from design conception to delivering products to customers. With its acquisitions, including Mentor Graphics, Siemens is now able to provide the most comprehensive flow for creating today’s technology, from pre-production (design, development, and validation) thorough production planning and execution. This flow will enable small to large manufacturers to move into the digital age together and build smart, connected factories.

Enabling companies to develop better electronic products faster and more cost-effectively