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Industry 4.0: how will it affect metalworking?

Industry 4.0, or Smart Industry as it’s also known, is a hot topic in the manufacturing industry. Industry 4.0 is all about digitisation and automation. Cellro specialises in automating CNC machines for metalworking. What will Industry 4.0 mean to your machine shop? Why is Industry 4.0 relevant to the future of the metalworking industry? And how do you ensure that you don’t miss out on the opportunities offered by this digital revolution? Find out in this article.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 or Smart Industry is a type of industry focusing on automation. The defining feature is the (partial) replacement of human thought processes by automated systems. It’s for good reason that people are calling this a digital revolution. ICT is being integrated into the entire production process at a rapid pace – from design to distribution – as new product technologies emerge on the market. Organisations, machines and other production resources are increasingly being digitised. This leads to the creation of so-called smart factories. The processes, people and machines are constantly connected, performing the work increasingly faster and more intelligently. Industry 4.0 affects the entire manufacturing industry. And that includes machine shops, of course.

Industry 4.0: the fourth industrial revolution

At the end of the 18th century, the world was confronted by the first industrial revolution. The invention of the steam engine stands as a symbol of the far-reaching industrial changes that hit Europe back then. For the first time, it was possible to make use of continuous mechanical power. Hydropower and mechanics made manual and labour-intensive manufacturing processes quicker and more efficient. Within roughly 150 years, this was succeeded by the second and third industrial revolutions. These were heralded by mass production and the introduction of robots, respectively.

Now, in the 21st century, we face the fourth industrial revolution: Industry 4.0. Thanks to the rise of the Internet and the radical development of what is now known as the Internet of Things, people and technology are ever more connected. The core of this process is the wireless sharing and collection of data. This doesn’t just concern your refrigerator and television; it’s your industrial equipment and business operations in particular that are affected. We’re collecting more and more data, and the software keeps getting smarter. The result is an intelligent collaboration between automation, information systems and production systems. In short, everything is connected. We can justifiably refer to a network society, a term coined by the Dutch professor Jan van Dijk. Industry 4.0 is more than just a clever marketing term: the fourth industrial revolution has begun.

Autonomous robots: an essential component of Industry 4.0

For some time now, manufacturers in various sectors have been using robots to perform complex tasks. The current revolutionary developments in robotisation are symbolic of the changes to the machining industry that Industry 4.0 embodies. Robots are becoming increasingly autonomous, more flexible and more cooperative. What’s more, they are increasingly connected, both to each other and to other machines. And these connections are becoming increasingly more reliable and more secure. This also means that robots are increasingly interesting to the machining industry. Cellro loading robots, for example, offer a broad range of functionalities. Moreover, you can expect an extremely attractive ROI. And finally, thanks to our robots’ modularity and the plug-and-play principles we employ, implementation of a Cellro loading robot in your organisation is easier than you’d think.

How will Industry 4.0 change your machine shop’s production?

Industry 4.0 and Smart Industry are prompting the emergence of new production methods, new business models and new sectors. What was new a year ago may now be considered outdated. These innovations are all characterised by smart production processes. Machines that are capable of self-directed working, for instance. This allows for continuous optimisation of the production processes.

Flexibility is another key concept that characterises these changes in the machining industry. Products with varying specifications are produced at different volumes and with different lead times, in a fully automated process. Besides moving a wider range of products, the products are also cleaned, deburred, turned over or clamped, all within the same system. You’ll see that you and your competition can keep ramping up the efficiency and speed of your manufacturing.

In the Industry 4.0 era, your machines will be capable of seamless communication with automation solutions, and will continuously report their status. This applies to both the short term (“What am I producing now?”) and the long term (“Which components are showing signs of wear?”). In brief, the result is a highly streamlined, predictable and therefore more profitable manufacturing process.

Make the move to automation together with Cellro

If you don’t want to miss the boat, and you’re curious to know how you can automate your machining process, you’ve come to the right place at Cellro. With Xcelerate and Elevate, Cellro supplies high-quality loading robots, capable of providing automation solutions for a wide range of CNC brands. Feel free to contact one of our experts at any time with no obligation.