As the needs of the consumers change with time, the manufacturers also have to aim for continuous improvement to keep up with the pace. The world is now witnessing the 4th industrial revolution which is commonly known as Industry 4.0. It has been identified as the current trend of data exchange and automation in manufacturing technologies which includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing. The smart factory concept has been designed under Industry 4.0 as a future aspect of the manufacturing industry. Let us first understand what Industry 4.0 means.
About Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 refers to the intelligent networking of machines and processes for the industry with the help of information and communication technology. The production companies are facing the fourth iteration in the major industry shifts. The evolution has brought huge improvements in technologies, systems, and advancements in manufacturing. Each stage of manufacturing history has been enhanced in some way or the other. To know more about the foundations of Industry 4.0, let us look at the history of the industrial revolution:
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: Mechanization, Steam Engines, Water/steam power, Iron production, Textile Industry, Mining and metallurgy, Machine Tools.
INDUSTRY 2.0: Technological Electrification, Production Line, Mass Production, Globalization, Engines/turbines, Broad adoption oftelegraph, gas etc.
INDUSTRY 3.0: Computer/Internet, Digital Manufacturing, PLC/Robotics, Digitization, Automation, Electronic/digital networks, Digital Machines.
INDUSTRY 4.0: Convergence IT/OT, Autonomous machine, Advanced robotics, Big Data/Analytics, Internet of Things, Smart Factory, Machine Learning& AI.
For the manufacturing sector, especially in cases of mass-produced goods such as in the apparel and textile sector, the Industry 4.0 movement is a revolution in the making.
Benefits of Industry 4.0
With the growth of technology and the improvements made to supply chain efficiency, the production practices of Industry 4.0 have been hugely beneficial to the companies that adopt them. Even in the apparel industries, the integration of computer software and hardware has proven to be advantageous. Some of the benefits of Industry 4.0 are the following: Security: Industry 4.0 focuses on implementing cloud technology and integrating it as a central location for all data. Cloud-based software gives the information maximum security, protecting it from human error, unauthorized use, and even uncontrollable weather-based circumstances. It automatically takes care of database maintenance and system file backups, keeping all the files up to date in real-time.
Scalability: As the business grows, there is a need to expand and scale the company. It has now become very easy to do so with the help of automation and machine learning. It facilitates the integration of new systems and expansion as a whole. With highly capable systems, we can have the freedom to transfer staff to different departments that need more assistance. Industry 4.0 also provides us with faster production as well as an ability to compete globally, focus on our company’s strengths, and delegate jobs to artificial intelligence.
Customer Satisfaction: By fully integrating Industry 4.0 systems with the processes, we can make our customer relations efforts easier and far more effective. Omni-channel IoT systems allow companies to keep their customers informed throughout every step of the manufacturing process. We can also notify them of order and shipping progress, give them specific details about the product, create customized items and give them any details they may want, from order fulfillment to delivery. It also helps us in collaborating more closely with both customers and suppliers to provide a higher quality product.
Control and Visibility: Digital records need to be available and accessible at all points of the production system. The teams are now able to view the database worldwide in real-time with the help of cloud servers. Having a consolidated resource helps to improve collaborative efforts by connecting teams and personnel across factories and regions.
Customization: Between varying levels of software and the capacity for effective 3D printing, we can provide customized products. With a way to quickly fulfill small-scale quantities and orders, we can offer more customization options and manufacture the items individually and without any human interference. Using the same technology, we can even produce individual parts of the existing products and repair faulty designs effortlessly.
Designing a Customized Smart Apparel Production Plant
Taking examples from companies like Volkswagen, Tommy Hilfiger, and Zara, we can design a customized apparel production plant based on the Smart Factory concept. The key differentiator of Industry 4.0 lies in its ability to accelerate, expand, and fundamentally alter critical aspects of production and manufacturing. Factories of the future will be completely automated, self-servicing, and self-repairing structures that require minimal human intervention. A truly ‘smart’ factory is clearly on our horizons, thanks in large part to the synergy between new technologies of Industry 4.0.
Based on this concept, a novel sewing process of the customized apparel production plant can be designed which will have the following features:
Production Cells: The customized production plant can consist of product cells where each of the components of apparel can be manufactured and customized in each cell before moving on to the final assembly cell. This cell can consist of multi-tasking machine operators and automated sewing machines.
Real-time Production and Part Tracking: To track each customized part of the garment as per the customer order and assemble, RFID tags can be attached to each part of the garment. Having RFID tags in the garments will be beneficial to implement the real-time production tracking system to increase the efficiency of the raw material reconciliation process.
Implementing Social Manufacturing with 3D Designing: A social manufacturing platform can be implemented in the ERP system where the customers can directly place their orders according to the requirements. This system will allow the customers to follow their orders from inception to the end with the integration of the real-time production tracking system as well. Through this system, the 3D design of the garment can be tested using the virtual models and the 3D printed garment can also be obtained by eliminating the long sample making process.
A fully integrated smart factory can also enable a highly accurate overview of manufacturing operations because of the real-time processing and analysis of data from web-based IoT (Internet of Things) devices and sensors. A connected factory can also allow for capabilities such as predictive analytics, self-diagnostics, repair, and self-optimization. One strategic method of digitalization is the Digital Twins approach. With digital twins, production and manufacturing processes can be replicated on a digital platform within a virtualized environment. Factory managers can then use this digital twin to experiment and test out new process solutions, without the expensive overhead or risk of real-world implementation. As a result, a smart factory can be iteratively enhanced over time for constant improvement at minimized costs.
Future Prospects- Industry 5.0 and Beyond
A smart factory offers a wide range of benefits, especially related to production and efficiency. It is equipped to constantly collect and collate massive volumes of data generated from every system. This gives companies an invaluable data-set that can be analyzed in real-time across departments. Decision-makers with access to this information can gain essential insights into performance gaps and be better-positioned to recommend solutions. Keeping in view the advancements being made with the inception of the Industrial Revolution at a much faster pace, we can soon witness Industry 5.0 in the evolution of the manufacturing sector. We can firmly believe that Industry 5.0 is set to focus on returning the importance of human hands and minds to the framework of manufacturing, finding ways for people and computers to work in tandem to improve production efficiency.