What began with Henry Ford’s assembly line in the 18th century has been taken a few steps further towards a highly automated production industry in the course of the last 40 years.
Information technology has been implemented into factories in order to increase their production speed and to facilitate highly product customisation. As a consequence, a wider product variety could be produced to please the various tastes of the target customers.
Nowadays, the car industry especially is using networking for their production processes; as a result, cars are available in hundreds of colours, sizes and styles, and offer even more equipment options. Although, not every industry is using this high level of automation yet, it is believed that this will change over the next 30 years.
As the wide integration of information technology in the world’s industry impacts crucially on plant and factory capacity and the labour market, economists believe this is marking a fourth industrial revolution. If this predicted installation of high engineered technology will take place, the services of heavy lifting and machine installation providers – LGUK Hoists and Winches for example – will be needed in the near future.
At the end of the fourth industrial revolution it is believed that every plant, machines and products are becoming interlinked. Therefore, production processes may become entirely transparent and plants will evolve to be self-sufficient units. On the one hand, machines will be enabled to regulate their own maintenance and repairing. On the other, raw materials or semi-finished products will tell machines through sensors what their purpose and status is within the whole production chain.
Moreover, plant operators are enabled to easily keep track of plants’ and products’ statuses, as well as error rates around the clock. Additionally, defective or wrong produced products can be identified and avoided more reliably; ensuring a consistent quality of the product and decreasing raw material costs. Finally, with the help of automated technology and networked plants, the risk-factor ‘human error’ and supervisor’s stress levels are shrinking enormously, creating an extreme flexibility of production centres.
Conclusively, networked machines show an enormous increase in productivity levels, as it had been experienced the last time when the assembly line had been invented. In order to guarantee the best capacity utilisation of equipment and staff, and to produce a high quality output, manufacturers should think about investing in networking technologies.