…And January is over! This first month of 2018 consisted of forecasts and predictions for manufacturing in the years ahead, and while those are important for planning and data collection, never forget to stay up to date with news. For your ease and convenience, we’ve summarised four key pieces of news that we think will be pertinent for any manufacturer’s Industry 4.0 journey.
Make Metal In Space
Any manufacturer knows that the most unbelievable part of space movies like The Martian is their team’s ability to get parts constructed and blasted off to space in no time at all. Made in Space, a Californian company, agreed, and hence came up with a seemingly straight-forward solution: why not just 3D-print the materials in space instead?
To get around the challenges of sending materials, parts, and people to space while saving costs on extraterrestrial travel, Made in Space worked with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to print parts on the International Space Station in 2014.
As per Industry Week, they are currently using a ‘a 3D printer about the size of a microwave oven on the space station to make plastic parts for antennas, radars and satellites’ with instructions coming from the ground.
Their next step? Fabricating metal parts in space over the next 24 months. Talk about thinking out of the box.
Time To Print Some Graphene Sensors
Another printing breakthrough is coming straight from the Earth (from carbon, actually). As per The Manufacturer, researchers from the University of Manchester have managed to layer graphene-oxide over graphene to create a sensor that can be mass-produced at low cost.
These humidity sensors with RFID enablers can be printed layer-by-layer, and is developed ‘for remote sensing with the ability to connect to any wireless network’. If that doesn’t impress you, just know that these sensors wouldn’t even need a battery source, since it harvests power from the receiver instead.
This new development can be used in various manufacturing monitoring applications such as processes that are sensitive to moisture, food safety, healthcare and nuclear waste. This would be ground-breaking due to the scalability and flexibility allowed, making for a solution that can be implemented industry-wide.
Predictive Maintenance Proves Itself At TransCanada
We discuss the power of Industry 4.0 quite often, but there’s nothing more convincing than empirical evidence. In this The Manufacturer interview with fault tolerant computer servers and software company Stratus Technologies, they discuss how energy infrastructure business TransCanada was susceptible to risk due to the possibility of compression stations failing.
To address that risk, Stratus upgraded TransCanada’s automation and turbine network, which allowed data to be ‘collected from every turbine, pump and compression station, and fed back to a centralised control room.’ That data then went through an IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) platform, which produced patterns and trends that can allow predictive maintenance to be carried out.
The result? Cost savings of around $16million to $17million since 2014. Just imagine the difference that would make for your own margins.
Compare Industry 4.0 Readiness By Country
If you’re wondering what your current ability for Industry 4.0 is, the World Economic Forum (WEF), in collaboration with A.T. Kearney, has developed a report titled the ‘Readiness for the Future of Production Report 2018’. It measures how prepared and positioned ‘100 countries and economies are to shape and benefit from the changing nature of production through the adoption of emerging technology’.
Key findings include the fact that only 25 countries are leading in the race to benefit overall from the changes in production, and these countries are the ones that ‘already account for over three quarters of global Manufacturing Value Added today’. These countries include China, Germany, Israel, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.
High-potential economies that have the capacity to increase production include Australia, Hong Kong, Qatar and Portugal.
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