Industry 4.0 doesn’t just mean more connectivity and more data, it also means greater creativity.
The typical design process for manufacturers was a long and laborious endeavour, which involved hours of work to ensure that every part slotted together in the right order, that worked with the current factory set up and that could be engineered without too much downtime in the schedule. Times have changed a lot since then.
Back in 1990, with the help of Dassault Systemes, Boeing created the first aircraft designed entirely by computer, the 777. It was a watershed moment for design and since then three-dimensional CAD systems have become the norm, but there is now a new trend sweeping across the sector.
Creating an entire virtual universe of your manufacturing environment and what it might look like is now the latest leap in manufacturing technology. This universe isn’t simply a map of your plant floor; it can become a process map that evaluates the processes in use, better processes to use.
When you are looking at everything from the design of your products down to the flow of your workshop, it opens up new ways of working. Not only does it give you back time and space you didn’t know you had, but also it frees up your employees to do the real value adding jobs.
If you take that one stage further then you can create a set of digital instructions that denote the best possible way to create a good. The first time that this paperless system is used, firms can typically save 30% of the time spent creating those in a paper-based format. Subsequently, however, firms can then save up to 80% of the time when creating these digitally compared to a paper form.
On top of the time savings that digital instructions create, it also means that there is a record of each part logged in to the system, so if a part changes or is discontinued there is still a clear set of instructions that can be followed to create that part.
Ensuring that manufacturing firms have the skillset to make the most of this new technology is one of the biggest restricting factors to adoption. Purchasing the technology can only be fully utilised if the workforce is brought up to speed on the best way to use it.
Understanding the capabilities of the technology and how to get the most out of it is the biggest stumbling block for firms at this stage.
However embracing 3D digital production allows firms to create the products of the future and to innovate at far greater speed and with far greater precision than has ever been seen before. This will open up new revenue streams, new business models and even more opportunities.