Brave new world 4.0
The new industrial revolution – marked by the convergence between the operation and information technologies – is not new, but will intensify in the very short term in all productive chains.October-December | 2016
Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley assembler known for high end electric cars, introduced an unprecedented innovation in the automotive industry: owners of the cars such as the brand’s sedan receive frequent software updates of the vehicles, like those updates of its operating system that Apple sends to the iPhone owners. Sensors and radars installed in the vehicles capture data on the use of the car all the time, feeding a system that parses and returns the data in the form of technical improvements on each update. With this, the company enhances items, such as the vehicle’s autopilot system, makes adjustments in speed and allows the driver to better plan their trips based on the load autonomy.
This is an example of how the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, or “Industry 4.0”, begins to transform how the goods are produced and relate to the consumer. The concept is very recent: it first appeared in 2011 in a document from GTAI, the German government agency for trade and investment, when a strategy plan in the area of technology for the country was designed. On the other hand, the pace in which the Industry 4.0 tends to spread in all productive chairs increases every day, to the point one can surely say that it will be a common theme in the 2017 agenda of the companies in these sectors.
In the Industry 4.0, the convergence between the physical means of production and information technology deal the cards, resulting in a new model characterized by the integration and production control by sensors and networked equipment, making possible the use of artificial intelligence.
“The Industry 4.0 will promote a shortening of deadlines for releasing of new products on the market, greater flexibility in the production lines and more efficient use of natural resources and energy.” Reynaldo Saad
“The Industry 4.0 will promote a shortening of deadlines for releasing of new products on the market, greater flexibility in the production lines and more efficient use of natural resources and energy.”
Among the technologies that enable the industry 4.0 are: Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, big data analysis, cloud computing, augmented reality, additive manufacturing (3D printing) and hybrid manufacturing (additive and machining functions in the same equipment). This is not only about plants with high degree of automation: in the smart industry, machinery and inputs have “conversations” and exchange data along the industrial operations. In addition, the concept not only applies to manufacturing, but it also extends to the other stages of the value chain, from the development of new products to the post-sale – case of the Tesla Motors’ smart sedans.
“The Industry 4.0 will promote a shortening of deadlines for releasing of new products on the market, greater flexibility in the production lines and more efficient use of natural resources and energy” says Reynaldo Saad, Deloitte’s lead-partner for the Consumer and Industrial Products industry.
The so-called mass customization is also another aspect of the trend that should change the relationship between the industry and its target audience. “The Industry 4.0 will allow the creation of new business models based on real consumer demands. Companies will be able to manufacture in real time what the consumer demands, without the need to maintain stocks”, says John Emilio Gonçalves, National Policy executive manager from the National Confederation of Industries (CNI).
“To accelerate the process of digital transformation, the industry must invest in the knowledge of the digital productive models”, complements Saad.
The automotive industry is one of those that has most invested in 4.0 technologies in the whole world. In Brazil, one of the references in the use of digital technologies in the production is the Jeep SUV factory in Goiana (PE), which is part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group. Inaugurated in 2015, it is the most modern unit of production of the group since the merger of Fiat with Chrysler. With capacity to produce 250 thousand cars per year, the unit gathers digitalization, connectivity and virtual reality in its production process.
One of the innovations is the flexible process in the bodywork step, able to create up to four different models, simultaneously, with the use of the New Plant Landscape (NPL) system, in which the vehicle is mapped in each step of the manufacturing process, with an integrated and real-time data management from product and process – there are 604 robots in operation and connected, which allow online analysis.
The factory is integrated with suppliers and all of them operate under the same communication system in real time to ensure the logistics flow, reducing the storage level. “The Jeep factory was designed using all the processes’ virtual simulation tools, state of the art equipment and ergonomics solutions” says Pierluigi Astorino, responsible for FCA’s manufacturing engineering.
For the providers of services and technologies aligned with the Industry 4.0 concept, Brazil represents a huge opportunity, although the trend is still in its infancy in the Country. Siemens PLM Software, a division of the German multinational that produces software for managing the digital life cycle of the product, already provides technology for companies of the automotive and machinery and equipment sector.
“In Brazil, we find many companies that have several departmental solutions, but they are not integrated, losing the holistic vision” says Paulo Leal da Costa, Siemens PLM Software’s vice president for South America. In Europe, where the concept is more widespread, companies seek other digital manufacturing tools, such as 3D simulations and predictive engineering. Recently, Siemens established a partnership with BSH, the largest European manufacturer of household appliances, to engage more 4.0 technologies in the manufacturing and connectivity solutions for home appliances, within the concept of Internet of Things and smart houses.
Autodesk, also a solutions provider to the industry, known for modeling and 3D printing software, has noticed a gradual increase in the demand for 4.0 technologies in Brazil. “Customers are gradually incorporating the concept, whether by means of robots, production sensors, or by using data generated by the systems in decision-making”, says Raul Arozi, manufacture technical specialist from Autodesk.
One Autodesk’s customers in Brazil is Electrolux Latin America’s design center, located in Curitiba, which uses the digital prototyping and virtual reality in the making of home appliance prototypes that will reach the final consumer. The use of digital prototyping does not eliminate the need to build physical prototypes, but makes the decision-making process more agile and assertive, besides allowing cost reduction.
Basf, the German multinational in the chemical sector, is another which has collected the laurels using 4.0 technologies. By using big data analysis in its soap factory in Kaiserslautern, Germany, the company has reduced to almost zero the waste of raw materials in the process. The Brazilian subsidiary has incorporated some 4.0 technologies into the agribusiness and paint divisions (the German company owns the Suvinil trademark), only more towards its final consumer. One example is the offer of applications that allow the farmer to identify, based on data analysis, the moment of greatest vulnerability of their culture to then make the application of pesticides. “It is a moment of technological transition. Integrate 4.0 technologies in the chain will be the next step”, says Rony Sato, Basf South America’s Technology and Innovation Manager.
To enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution at once, Brazil will have to overcome challenges in terms of infrastructure and connectivity (broadband and mobile networks) and identify industrial policy instruments that enable its development in the Country, such as the acquisition of capital goods. In the evaluation of the technology expert Otto Berkes, global head of Technology from CA Technologies, a North American company of development and management software, there is also a need to develop a labor force able to cope with the new demands.
“There is much talk that the Industry 4.0 can cause the loss of jobs, but what we see is a change in the profile of professionals who will work in the industry. There will be less demand for factory floor workers and more for those specialized in technology and software. Brazil needs to invest in the qualification of these professionals”, concludes Berkes, from CA Technologies. After all, the revolution is technological – but it will be conducted by the persons capable of understanding its challenges.
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