Industry 4.0 is the increasing digitization of manufacturing technologies, and manufacturing is no exception. From the pressbrake to aircraft components, more and more suppliers are now embracing digitization, espousing the increased efficiency in production and cost, as the counterpoint to the high investment value needed for this process.
Several major companies and organisations across the world have already embraced digitization, and have shown promising results.
One such organisation is the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology, which developed a compact-format press for demonstrative purposes. They then presented it for the first time at the 2018 iteration of the Hannover Mess, as well as the Euroblech 2018. This new press monitors the condition of its own hardware in real time, as well as the starting material, the forming process as well as the quality of its produced components. A digital twin of the machine and its processes are also generated via sensor data from it, allowing for transparency in operations.
Bystronic, meanwhile, took account for the increased demand for flexible production, which consists of 2 parts, a pressbrake and a mobile bending robot, which can produce large series automatically, while still allowing for the production of small series manually. Notably, Ha-Beck Managing Director MathiaHasecke says that they’ve been using the technology for a year now, and that it’s very much clear that the trend for industries is increasing automation.
One common inquiry regarding the automation brought about by Industry 4.0 is what the future of employees will be like. To that end, the WissenschaftlicheGesellschaftfürProduktionstechnik (Scientific Society for Production Technology) conducted a study on what the industrial workplace in 2025. The organisation surveyed 120 machine tool manufacturers and operators, and will be used for defining the levels of automation for production processes. They say that this study will allow companies a benchmark for what degree of automation they should have, as well where they actually need automation in, with the Wissenschaftliche saying that automation is not meaningful and/or necessary everywhere.
According to Institute for Forming Technology Head Prof. Bernd-Arno Behrens, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, the future production plans will take over optimisation and associated processes, though he does believe that, even in the automated factories of the future, people still have a place to work in for their needs and their dreams.