Automation and the Smart Factory: Introduction to Industry 4.0


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There’s a lot of talk about automation, but I find that there is very little available on automation planning. This is one of my specialties. I started by studying for an MSEE in control theory, which went well with my bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering because I specialized in process control and IC manufacturing.

Before we get started, remember that the benefits will be derived only if certain cardinal principles are observed. This article briefly outlines the background of computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) and its evolution to Industry 4.0 and smart factories.

The characteristics of successful automation application in manufacturing depend on how well business and technical management understand and promote the strategies, tactics, and philosophies used in modern manufacturing. Successful automation implementation can be enhanced in any company, small or large, by reviewing the philosophies of CIM, automation, management roles, mechanization, SPC, TQC, Lean, MRP, and DFM.

Computer-Integrated Manufacturing (CIM)

The strategies outlined here are considered CIM, but the current vocabulary now is “Industry 4.0” or “smart factories.” Products include various software, computer, networking, interface, and measurement systems. At that time, HP had been in the automation business longer than any other company. It all started with requests from the government and others for automated test and measurement systems. Because of the need to automate various measurement instruments and systems, HP created the first machine-to-machine, plug-and-play protocol called HP Interface Bus (HP-IB). This was later formalized into the IEEE-488 communication standard.

CIM architecture was defined as early as 1980 when the CASA/SME published a presentation of computer-integrated manufacturing to provide a common set of terms for its members. The ring surrounding the wheel represents various influencing factors for the development of CIM such as expertise as a human factor, productivity as an economic factor, and computer technology as a technological factor.

The wheel itself contains four functions, including engineering design, manufacturing planning, production control, and factory automation. If the individual functions are connected to each other and operate with a common database, an integrated system architecture is created and represented by the hub of the wheel. This development has resulted in the realization that CIM, apart from factory automation and functions, is indirectly related to the operational performance, such as design (product/process), and production planning and control.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the April 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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