Production Planning Software and Industry 4.0

The latest era of industrial revolution – Industry 4.0 connects and revolutionizes various aspects of the industry including manufacturing processes as well as business processes such as supply chain. The increasing demand of customized product from the customer end is a major driving theme of this transformation in the industry. The traditional processes are highly efficient for batch production and low cost scaling in bulk manufacturing but are relatively time consuming inefficient for manufacturing customized products. Similar is the case for the business processes and models that being used around this manufacturing style. There is need of new production planning style which can simulate the costs, efficiency and resource requirements in real time for any product for mass customization.Industry 4.0 uses Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) and Internet of Things (IoT) to introduce technological and human improvements, which ultimately results in enhanced productivity, product quality with reduced manufacturing time and product price. Hence, the requirement of an advanced production planning and scheduling scheme becomes paramount. In this article,we will discuss how production planning can be implemented in Industry 4.0 and the ways in which it will help manufacturers of any and every product to adapt easily to customer demands and transition smoothly into the upcoming industrial economy.

Industry 4.0 brings along the requirement of new process and production planning where most of the working environment is automatized and the data recorded is processed using fog computing, on-premise clouds or cloud computing servers. Machine to Machine communication is expected to increase more than ever. These changes raise some critical questions and concerns regarding the manufacturing and planning processes:

  • Is it possible to completely automatize production planning using CPS and IoT?
  • Can human knowledge be translated into future products?

The role of Production Planning Software in Industry 4.0 will be to address these concerns effectively and ensure that the decision making processes involved in process selection, resource allocation, operation sequence and scheduling and sufficiently automatized with knowledge importer from previous processes. This should then result in the modeling of the future product including customer based customization demands as well.

Traditional process planning being used in many industries presently is completely based only on the knowledge and experience of the individual or team working on the system. The people working on the systems are technology experts from experience rather than knowledge. The existing demand for change to the new technology solutions can be a big transition for such individuals. This might slow down the progress of these industries, especially SMEs which are slower in the adaptation process. Hence, it is important for each industry to build their own strategy to implement Industry 4.0.

All the manufacturing resources in the industry are now connected to data and information exchange enabling better quality and process control. Scheduling of the product manufacturing and supply chain are being solved by using dynamic scheduling with the help of Structure Dynamics Control (SDC). Data and knowledge is transformed to software that makes a decision based on the technical specification of the order and available material combinations. This type of process planning has been adopted completely in very few industrial processes such as welding.It is still a challenge for many manufacturers to figure out what would be the optimal technique if an industry manufactures various products with different set of technologies. Also, the scaling of this single technology-single product scheme( e.g. welding) might not be easy on multiple types of products. Visualization of the process and predetermining the resource requirements will become more important. Simulation of the complete Production Planning using real time data can be an effective solution to this problem.Let us see how a product planning software can make the manufacturing process ’smarter’.

”Smart products” enable an industry to include information about customization demands of the consumer,collect feedback which can then be used in knowledge databases used in the various phases product design, development and manufacturing process. These include process planning, operation sequencing and scheduling. The collaboration of various product parameters and consumer needs in each stage of product development cycle allows the manufacturer to continuously improve the product quality and optimize the manufacturing costs effectively in real time. This results in an overall better product from both consumer and manufacturer’s point of view. Product Planning Software enable this whole cycle managing various processes starting from material selection, shape, geometry, operation priority, time of operation, machine cost and avail- ability and many more. The Product Planning can also be linked to the ERP( Enterprise Resource Planning Software) in the cloud to include insights and data to other parts of product lifecycle resulting in a better product with every iteration.

A good production planning software that automatizes the various tasks of the product development cycle is a must for mass customization and improved efficiency in Industry 4.0. Thus, it can be easily concluded that a good Planning Production Software will form a critical building block of the industry in Industry 4.0.

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