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By: Georgios Stergiou
September 14, 2020
Industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. By focusing on the end-to-end digitization of everything, connecting and integrating digital environments with value chain partners, Industry 4.0 networks a wide range of new technologies to create value by generating, analyzing and communicating data seamlessly. However, another distinctive aspect of the fourth industrial revolution is its ability to push manufacturing towards a zero-defect production.
The interaction between hardware, software, and communication results in fully automatic logistic systems, driverless transport systems equipped with integrated sensors technology and RFID advanced technology, therefore, less waste and finally a zero-defect rate.
The fourth industrial revolution transition requires flexible tools. For example, the adoption of smart software solutions empower companies with optimal interoperability and transparency in real-time. Products are manufactured easily and with more variation, overcoming communication and data quality limitations leading to:
Vertical Integration - all data regarding operational and efficiency processes, quality management, and operations planning, are available in real-time, supported by augmented reality and optimized in an integrated network.
Horizontal Integration - stretches beyond the internal operations from suppliers to customers and all key-value chain partners. It includes technologies from track and trace devices to real-time integrated planning, with execution.
Digitization of products includes the expansion of existing products, e.g. by adding smart sensors or communication devices that can be used with data analytics tools, as well as the creation of new digitized products, which focus on completely integrated solutions. By integrating new methods of data collection and analysis, companies are able to generate data on product use and refine products to meet the increasing needs of end-customers.
Expand offerings by providing disruptive digital solutions such as complete, data-driven services and integrated platform solutions. Disruptive digital business models generate additional revenues while optimizing customer interaction and access.
Defects arise when a process or a characteristic does not perform within its specification, resulting in a non-compliant condition. Although the explanation is oversimplified, defects equal failure, and for sure, defects are not free. Defect rate is the number of (defects) / (output tested) x 100. The defect rate is used to evaluate and control programs, projects, production, services and processes.
Getting exact figures on companies’ defects is very hard. It is a closely guarded secret. After all who wants to publish their failures. From discussing with colleagues’ work across the world in management consulting projects, I have heard companies that even now have defect rates from 0% to 90%! That is a big difference.
I remember back when I was an engineering student, some decades ago, when during summer vacation, I worked in a company within the automotive industry. I remember being astonished by the number of defects the company had. Simply, by observing all the parts they produced, and how many they eventually shipped to the other factory, on average the defect rate was almost 50%. Literally, they had run out of storage space for defects parts. Needless to say, the company closed down pretty soon after that.
I wish I could say that this was the only company that I know with such a bad defect performance. Even recently I visited a major automotive supplier in America and the numbers were over 15%. When talking with the Head of Operations, he insisted that their performance was industry standard. The question on my mind was "which industry standard? The old world or Industry 4.0?" I asked if he could specify the reasons behind every defect and how they were traced, and got nothing back. The company was marketing itself as a quality leader.
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Product defects and productivity can create a lot of interesting discussions. What is more interesting is when you google defective products, you get to see the number of liabilities against the company’s defects. So to conclude, defects cost money in many ways, not to mention reputation.
We all heard about the Six Sigma method by now, which is one way of measuring and eliminating defects. You can also look at the Pareto Chart and identify your 80-20. You could think of defect management process and follow the steps to identify the high defect rate cause. In short, there are many solutions around, however, none of the above are Industry 4.0 compatible.
The reason? Zero-defect in Industry 4.0 requires you to obtain information and the anticipated quality of the parts during the respective process steps. You must be able to evaluate the influence of deviating process parameters. This requires the highest quality of data, that only smart software solutions can provide. Traditional MES solutions aren't Industry 4.0 compatible.
There are 4 main areas of a traditional MES that needs to change in order to comply with Industry 4.0. Those are:
Smart software solutions such as digital work instructions and data capture solution gives companies the ability to adjust to and learn from data in real-time. Smart factories are more responsive, proactive, and predictive, thus avoiding operational downtimes and other productivity challenges.
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In my opinion, it all comes down to data quality. Thus smart software solutions are required, that can incorporate existing classical solutions but also offer additional benefits. Those smart solutions allow capabilities like:
According to Deloitte insights, there are five key characteristics of a smart factory:
Adopting these characteristics will help any company achieve an Industry 4.0 level manufacturing and subsequently lean manufacturing.
All those key characteristics play a vital role in understanding the zero-defect production concept and more importantly take action towards it.
Computer-aided quality is not part of most IT systems. The reason is that the majority of classical IT solutions, including MES, are standard systems and not agile enough to match specific company quality assurance needs. Smart software solutions automate quality processes. Intuitive structures and smart interfaces mean that companies can adapt smart solutions to their specific needs, considering all their quality aspects.
Below, I have a list of quality issues you should aim to resolve in order to achieve zero-defect production processes.
The management of measurement equipment is often, not part of maintenance strategy and execution. The reason for this is the lack of interoperability between IT systems and measurement equipment which is not possible with most classical IT systems.
Interconnected equipment, ensures all-embracing monitoring and provides permanent up-to-date information. Interoperable capabilities allow automated measurements. This leads to more valuable information and therefore better quality. Measurement failures will be eliminated as calibration tasks are managed smartly.
Quality assurance embraces process management control. Smart CAQ functionalities are challenging to obtain. They require 24/7 software monitoring capabilities, which can be achieved through interconnected systems and processes. This is not an option with classical IT systems.
Smart audit solutions empower you to execute process qualifications and compares your data 24/7. It monitors real-time process deviations, making sure you are instantaneously informed when those are occurring. The key: Focus on measuring and redesigning your internal processes using real-time information.
Those are often executed by stand-alone solutions or Excel. The reason for this is that classical IT systems are not deep enough embedded into the IT landscapes and production environment. Normally, data has to be captured manually. Smart solution can be connected with the overall IT landscapes and production environment and is processing information in real-time.
Quality managers are empowered with automatic assistance, enabling them to execute product qualification procedures, ensuring that all qualification requirements are within the predefined range.
Ensure 24/7 optimal quality, which continuously fulfils exact product qualification requirements. Monitor relevant product and process data, which can be correlated with manual data, providing Product Qualification reports leading to automated product qualifications procedures, for every product.
Product quality results and product qualification reports will be based on real-time data monitoring, ensuring “Best In Class” quality, with the click of a mouse.
Diversification of production tools, coupled with demanding production processes needs individual approaches to tooling. Tool quality assurance is a necessity for the company that aims to be competitive in the future and transition into Industry 4.0. Again this requires real-time monitoring and interoperable processes. Smart solutions make sure that necessary quality assurance measures for your tools and test equipment are executed, at the right time and manner. Smart Interoperable solutions create levels of transparency that eliminate tool failures.
To achieve perfect quality levels, smart and automatic reporting procedures must be in place. Smart means based on real-time data, generated instantaneously and correlating relevant information. Classical quality systems are not deep enough embedded into IT landscapes. This lack of automation limits your quality reporting and therefore efficiency.
Smart quality reporting requires a new type of software with all-embracing interconnectivity. Smart software solutions automatically record quality data and provide any kind of configured/customized, quality reports. Interoperability capabilities, with multiple systems, machines, stations or processes, enable you to get instantly updated reports, with minimal effort, accessible from smart devices.
Smart quality reporting pre defines relevant information and provides the right conclusions, in an intuitive and simple manner, relieving your team from manual work and allowing them to focus on added value.
In order to support statistical quality assurance procedures effectively and in real-time, flexible and highly adaptable solutions are required. This is not easy with classical IT solutions.
Smart software statistical quality analyses are created by automatically monitoring production environments. Using real-time data, you are empowered to create varieties of statistical quality analyses, which fulfil your needs and unique requirements. Do not be restricted in methodologies, but instead configurable, statistical solutions of optimal quality empowered by smart software solutions.
Industry 4.0 is based on technology and devices, autonomously communicating with each other along value chains. It brings opportunities but also challenges as software solutions manage physical processes. Through smart solutions creating virtual copies of the physical world, companies will be empowered with making the right decisions. Standardizations of multiple dimensions like technological, social and business paradigm changes will be made. For companies to achieve zero-defect production, smart, connected operations, and products will make your team, materials, energy, plant and equipment far more productive.
The repercussions for business processes will be felt throughout the economy of your company. By integrating production planning and control along your value chain you will enhance traceability and earlier detection enabling quality improvements and defect reductions. Integrated horizontal planning across partners will increase flexibility and responsiveness to customer demands.
Industry 4.0, is already happening and over the next few years, it will pick up pace tremendously. Value chains of industrial companies all over the globe are becoming increasingly digitized and connected, as are their products and services. Virtually no manufacturing company anywhere in the world will be unaffected by Industry 4.0. In my experience, this will impact corporate strategies and change companies´ operations.
Reduce complexities, costs, risks, waste, dependency, vagueness and increase simplicity, convenience, interconnectivity, flexibility, productivity and empowerment of your people with Industry 4.0.
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