Transforming a factory or process from analog to digital is much more than a capital expense. Yes, that’s part of it. But having a complete understanding of the hardware, software, data collection and decision making is where intelligent organizations have a distinct advantage.

That requires the ability to understand what challenges a certain industry and application face, and the creativity and innovation to find new solutions to common and less-common production bottlenecks, data acquisition, quality control, personnel safety and myriad other challenges.

Take for example the growing trend of monitoring hundreds or thousands of sensors in a facility. Capturing that data is the first task; determining what to do with all that data in a busy factory is a separate, larger challenge. Once realized, this can lead to solutions to optimize existing processes and make machinery run more predictably, with near-zero downtime and forced maintenance.

Consider how cobots are changing not just how work gets done, but how people interact with these machines and what skills are needed from human operators. Humans will continue to be present in smart manufacturing, but in different roles and capacities. Smart manufacturing can mitigate many of the occupational hazards today’s workers may face, but also creates new hazards.

Industry 4.0 and the industrial internet of things (IIoT) is more than solution – it is a cultural change in how cutting-edge manufacturers and industries are preparing for the future.

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In a manufacturing environment with dozens of machines and hundreds of sensors – and maybe even more – it is easy for busy engineers to be overwhelmed in an ocean of data. Here’s how to identify what needs to be measured and how to leverage that data for the best return.

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Thursday, Oct 27, 2022, 12:00 PM EDT (9:00 AM PDT / 6:00 PM CEST)

The next generation of industrial robots is efficient, endlessly adaptable and approachable for workers on the factory floor. Technologies like proximity detection, force limitation, pliable materials, hand guidance and augmented reality (AR), among others, are making cobots possible.

With the immense amount of automation and data collection in Industry 4.0, prioritizing personnel safety is easier than ever before. But there are also new safety risks that need assessment and procedures, so design principles and best practices will continue to evolve.

Maintenance is perhaps the biggest efficiency gain in Industry 4.0. Machines that are malfunctioning or underperforming are easy to identify, troubleshooting is quicker, and fixing them simpler. The end result is more uptime and higher productivity.