According to many experts over the last few years, we are entering the next or Fourth Industrial Revolution, also referred to as “Industry 4.0”. Extra points for those that can name the first three industrial revolutions.
So, what does it mean and how well are you prepared for this next phase? This question is being addressed currently in our facility, as well as many other manufacturing and business facilities across the globe.
What is the fourth industrial revolution? It is a shift in focus from individual “islands” of information and data to a centralized, shared, and many times overwhelming plethora of data. This really all started a “few” years back when we all began to learn about an amazing and confusing new thing called the “internet”. Computers all over the world could communicate through a common media. For quite some time the average person had no grasp on what it really was. Then more and more computers and devices/services began to take advantage of this amazing resource. Now a person graduating college does not even know a world without full access to all that the internet has made available.
But what does this mean for industry? Because of the normal progression of technology, many of the devices developed because of the internet are very useful in the manufacturing arena. A while back the term “the internet of things” or IoT was coined. Like the original internet, that didn’t mean much at first to most individuals. But it did to device designers and marketers. Now, a large majority of household appliances are internet ready. This same thing is occurring in the manufacturing industry. Just about anything you can imagine is now capable of collecting and transmitting information of some type. It is becoming commonplace to incorporate a smart element into just about anything. But is it needed and how is the data used? Is it just a gimmick or is it truly doing something useful?
Digital Manufacturing is another term used to characterize this new revolution. At our facility we have been embracing newly available technology as it comes along. From back in the early ‘90s with our first CAD system and operational systems computer, to the later ‘90s with the introduction of CNC machining, and currently with our hydraulic swivel endurance test stand that can be viewed, monitored and controlled from anywhere with internet access. Solid modeling, automated programming and verification and state of the art mill/turn machines were also added. All of this is the result of the digital movement.
Here at United Equipment Accessories we have been incorporating networked devices in many of our custom products for several years and the numbers are now increasing dramatically - mainly networked encoders and monitoring devices. A large number of our electrical slip rings are equipped with circuits designed for the high bandwidth necessary for the modern factory floor or industrial vehicle networking systems.
We currently have a team that is looking very closely at ways to leverage the capabilities of some of the newer devices and data collection products to continue to keep United Equipment Accessories at the forefront of electrical slip ring and hydraulic swivel design and manufacturing. We also feel that this revolution will improve the interaction between sales, engineering, manufacturing, customer service and the end user.
All just a click away. To learn more about UEA products visit http://www.uea-inc.com/products/.