Throughout the centuries, we have witnessed vast evolutions within industry, widely referred to as Industrial Revolutions. The 1700’s delivered mechanisation, steam power and the creation of the weaving loom and the 1800s brought us mass production, assembly lines and electrical energy, in what are considered Industry 1.0 and 2.0. The 3rd Industrial Revolution (Industry 3.0) saw the arrival of Automation, Computers and Electronics in the late 1960s. Harnessing the full power of technology, innovators have been able to push the boundaries further still, in realising Cyber-Physical Systems, Autonomous Robotics, Augmented Reality, Big Data, and the Internet of Things, commonly known as Industry 4.0
We find ourselves in the midst of some of the most enthralling innovation, in terms of our interconnective capabilities and the manner in which we can operate in real-time; benefitting from up to the second information. This enables us to analyse, monitor and proactively respond to instances that occur within everyday life; allowing us to take swift and decisive action to avoid downtime and loss of productivity.
The digitalisation of products and services has arguably opened the pandora’s box for businesses within production, engineering and automation industries. It has given rise to greater introspection in terms of devising the connective interfaces and processes which remove wasted effort and resource. Maximising the use of interconnectivity and interactive platforms has helped to build collaborative relationships, which are paramount to maximising the transfer of knowledge, establishing engagement and servitisation of a solution; beyond product development, which in turn maximises value to the customer.
Industry 4.0 is expansively focused on the provision of digitised practices, in order to transform industrial operations through transparency and interconnectivity.
Inspired by Germany
For several decades, the manufacturing world has looked to Germany as a template for manufacturing growth and excellence. As production facilities become increasingly intelligent, Industry 4.0 has undoubtedly become a vital component of global networking; strengthening production yields and the prosperity of the global automation industry, whilst further securing employment, good working conditions and social prosperity for decades to come.
In 2013, the German Government sponsored the ‘Industry Platform 4.0’, bringing together over 350 stakeholders from over 150 companies, associations and trade unions, as well as the best within science and politics. Our key alliance partner Festo were within the founding cohort and have been a strong proponent of the Industry 4.0 platform since; leading steering committees, research advisories and working groups, as well as presiding over Industry 4.0 topics such as collaborative strategies, technical solutions, network infrastructure and security.
In 2019 Dr Frank Melzer of the Festo Management Board became chair of the steering committee for the next 2 years, underlining Festo as co-creators of Industry 4.0 and their key commitment to the evolution of ‘Industrie 4.0’ by the year 2030; further shaping global digital ecosystems through;
Autonomy – Development of technology, security and digital infrastructures
Interoperability – Regulatory frameworks, standards and integration, Decentralised System and AI
Sustainability – Generating higher living standards through social participation, greater employment and education opportunities and climate change mitigation for a circular economy.
“Increasing digitalisation will open up numerous new opportunities and new business models across Europe. We have to actively shape this future, instead of just letting it happen,” commented Dr. Frank Melzer, member of the Festo Management Board Product and Technology Management.
Made Smarter – The UK Response
The UK government have since devised the Made Smarter programme, in order to inspire the next industrial revolution here in the UK. Innovate UK, The High Value Manufacturing Catapult and the KTN (Knowledge Transfer Network) have formed an alliance and have identified;
- AI, Machine Learning and Data Analytics
- Additive Manufacturing
- Robotics and Automation
- VR and Augmented Reality
- Industrial Internet of Things IIoT and Connectivity
as 5 key technology areas for UK evolution.
For several years Festo GB has co-sponsored the Digitalising Manufacturing Conference in Coventry (UK) organised by the MTC; measuring UK progress in digital integration and innovation. It is widely accepted that more must be done to ensure SME’s can access and can utilise advances in technology, as well as to decentralise funding across the UK as a whole, following the exclusive North West pilot.
The PCE – Festo Partnership
The PCE GROUP are delighted to count Festo as a key alliance partner; benefiting from rich experience and advances in technology, within bespoke automation.
“The PCE and FESTO relationship is pivotal to the success of The PCE GROUP and our continued growth. We share a highly collaborative relationship; overcoming the most complex of automation challenges that delivers long-term value for our customers. Bespoke automation presents unique and complex challenges; so, to have a global giant such as Festo at our side, is of immeasurable value to myself and the business. We very much look forward to continuing the exceptional relationship and to harnessing the next generation of technologies within our market leading automation solutions ”.
Sean Proctor, Electrical Design Manager, The PCE GROUP
Festo are excited to be working in partnership with PCE on advanced automation projects and it’s great to see our relationship with the engineering team at PCE grow ever stronger. We look forward to the next projects already in the pipeline and the future integration of further new technologies, like AI predictive maintenance.
Josh Roberts, Business Development Consultant, Festo
PCE Application of Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 provides substantive Return on Investment opportunities, owing to the endless possibilities of automation technology. Working alongside our key alliance partners at Festo, Rockwell, Mitsubishi, as well as other global brands, PCE embraces the latest technologies to maximise machine-to-machine communication and connectivity, in order to help streamline manufacturing processes.
We harness the power of Festo and our alliances and their technologies; that enables the exchange of big data (analytics) to enhance knowledge of customer needs through real-time monitoring and collaboration. We utilise Industry 4.0 technologies and practices, to enhance the asset intelligence of your automation equipment; providing the capability of providing a range of information from general diagnostics, to the monitoring and expense of energy usage. This boost our collective ability to collect and analyse intelligent data for transformation to actionable outputs.
The rapid evolution and roll-out of Industry 4.0 based industrial automation over recent years has been exciting to witness and PCE have always been at the forefront.
Finding partners like PCE willing to embrace new products and be early adopters of technology is critical. It showcases what is possible and provides confidence to other users in the benefits to be gained.
These include improved design and simulation processes, easier integration of components, machine-readable data collection and the incorporation of Edge and Cloud-based technologies for improved productivity, quality and energy consumption.
Steve Sands, Head of Product Management, Festo
“The Industry 4.0 framework is not just an aspirational set of ideals. It represents a tremendous opportunity for manufacturing as a whole to maximise Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) whilst affording (through big data) the foresight to make key operational decisions that maintain optimum performance levels, across a variety of operating environments.
Working in alliance with global giants such as Festo, helps to position us at the forefront of innovation, through the considered and applied application of their cutting-edge technologies. Our partnerships are a clear signal of intent, that we strive to utilise the very best that technology has to offer, using excellence to create excellence.
The vast product range and knowledge base of Festo, helps us to unleash innovation and the best technology mix, to overcome the challenges posed within bespoke automation.”
James Cook, Managing Director, The PCE GROUP
How can this benefit PCE Customers?
The digitalisation capabilities of The PCE GROUP, allow us to monitor and assess customer needs, promoting the longevity of machine components; allowing proactivity and for timely interventions in maximising the life span of our bespoke automation.
The interconnectivity of intelligent components sets the landscape for the collection and analysis of data, so we can meet customer requirements with swift and timely interjections that maximise cell efficiency and improve overall OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness). We as a business can be responsive to ever-changing customer demands and adapt our service accordingly, in order to provide maximum efficiency and value to the customer.
The principles of Industry 4.0 allows customers to effectively plan scheduled maintenance activities, in order to minimise downtime. Providing real-time data based on an asset’s usage has the net effect of ensuring that key decision-makers can do so from a basis of highly accurate, ‘live’ information, on which to base key operational decisions that maintain ultimate levels of speed, productivity, efficiency, and performance.
We fully look forward to how Industry 4.0 evolves and will continue at the forefront of innovation, along with our key alliance partners, as we continue to grow The PCE GROUP of Companies.