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Industry 4.0 to revolutionise the Foundry Industry

Monday, March 11, 2019

A K Anand, Director, The Institute of Indian Foundry

The Indian Government’s campaign regarding “Make in India“ is well meaning slogan and with good intentions. In true sense it is possible to realize these goals only if we can compete globally in terms of quality, pricing and ability to deliver on time and every time consistently. Going forward, we will see intense competition due to rapid emergence of Industry 4.0 in all spheres of manufacturing in various parts of the world

Manufacturing will have to compete with Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution which is about synchronizing physical world with virtual world with never before opportunities for improved productivity and efficiency.

The future will throw open opportunities for optimization at all levels of production including foundries.

Digital transformation is taking place in all spheres be it governance, delivery of various services, smart cities, smart homes or transportation. Industry 4.0 is the digital version of industry. The essential parts of industry 4.0 are 6Cs ie Connection-sensors and networks; Cloud- computing and data on demand; Cyber- Mode and Meory; Content-Meaning and Co relation; Community-Sharing and Collaboration and Customization-Personalization and value.

Industry 4.0 may not be the need for one and all. But it can be boon for industry operating in highly competitive environment. It can be used for a single process or for complete transformation which can be customized and it will depend on individual case.

The main factors for success are -Having a vision or idea; digitization has to be a focus of management and of strategic importance; changing the workflows to transform the way we do things; workforce and partners.

There are number of aspects to consider. It is very important to analyse return on investments (ROI). In the digital world nothing is impossible but without proper ROI, these technologies may not have significant relevance. There has to be a business case suited to individual operation.

There is new challenge of security. As soon as machinery is connected to the outside world, it gets exposed to security threats. There may be several ways to handle the security risk but most go with restricted access. New security risks will emerge for which adequate software update mechanism will have to be in place. This normally does not exist for machine control system.

In 4.0 G, there is a need to sync with the industrial network of companies. In this situation, the definition of ownership of data becomes difficult. Who owns the data on the clouds remains a question mark. Such issues cause companies to be sceptical and hesitant to use such technologies

As we go forward, we will see machines who will communicate with each other and be able to operate without human intervention, thus restricting human role, which will change from operation to supervision and maintenance.

Industry 4.0 is currently in the infant stage for the foundry industry. Basic machine to machine communications and remote service over VPN have been in use for quite sometime already. More and more people are wanting to explore such technologies. A  lot more needs to be done both on supplier and customer side to fully use the potential of Industry 4.0. On the supplier side, right technologies and expertise has to be built and customers have to understand the expected value of 4.0. The 4.0 technologies in foundries will start with localized solutions and moving to cloud applications gradually resulting in improved connectivity between foundries and suppliers.

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