Industry 4.0 examples in manufacturing

Industry 4.0 examples inside a shop floor

Once you have a basic Industry 4.0 system in place in the factory, you can do a variety of things with the data that is collected automatically. Here are some Industry 4.0 examples inside a manufacturing shop floor.

Industry 4.0 examples inside a shop floor
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Monitoring production and productivity
You can track production quantities on every machine, and generate reports for personnel or show them on Andon boards. You can get alerts on a mobile phone/email if the production is below target. You can track downtime durations and their reasons, and generate reports that help in analyzing the causes and reducing them. You can get alerts if the machine is idle for a long time, or if the downtime is too high in a particular shift. You can track rejection and rework quantities, and get alerts if rejection levels are too high. You can track and improve OEE. Of all the Industry 4.0 examples, this is the one that most shop floors start off with.

Supply chain
The Industry 4.0 system directly tracks production from the machine. Purchase software can use this data to update the available raw material, and automatically reorder material when the raw material reduces down to the reorder quantity.

When a part is scheduled for manufacture, often the actual production is very different from the schedule. The reasons for the deviation could be any of these : raw material shortage, operator on sick leave, machine breakdown, power outage, accident. What you think is happening can be very different from what is actually happening, because there is no direct feedback from the machines. Solution: Track production on the machines directly with an Industry 4.0 based machine monitoring system, and get the scheduling software to pick up the production quantities from the monitoring system. The scheduling software then relies on this data to decide batch completion dates, machine availability, etc.

The instant a machine breaks down, the monitoring system can send an SMS and email alert to people in your in-house maintenance team. You can control spares parts inventory or automatically order spares for preventive and predictive maintenance, based on machine running hours and condition monitoring. You can track the running time of the machine and condition of various parts, generate reports and alerts for preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance. You can track maintenance efficiency parameters like MTTA, MTTR and MTBF. The Industry 4.0 software has automatic systems to improve your breakdown maintenance, time based preventive maintenance and usage based preventive maintenance. It can prompt and guide operators through Autonomous maintenance (Jishu Hozen).

When a part is inspected, each dimension can be recorded in the production monitoring system. The data is tagged against the part count or the unique serial number), and is available for audit any time in the future. With periodic inspection, the data can be fed into SPC software to track process capability and rectify the process (change a tool, change tool offsets on a CNC machine, etc.) whenever required.

HR and training
The Industry 4.0 software knows the production efficiency of each machine operator – setup times, part load-unload times, rejection percentage, rework percentage, etc. This data can be used to determine gaps in skills of operators, and decide on a systematic training program to plug these gaps. When a supervisor is allotting operators to machines, the software can shortlist operators with skills suitable for the machine. E.g., it shows only CNC turning center operators when scheduling operators for CNC turning centers. You can promote people based on this data that shows efficiency and motivation levels.

The Industry 4.0 software knows the production quantity, productivity and rejections on parts produced by each operator. You can pay wages based on parts produced, and incentives based on productivity and rejections. This is one of the Industry 4.0 examples that directly impacts directly operator motivation levels, and improves your ability to retain good personnel.

Industry 4.0 examples outside the shop floor

The data that is collected from machines can also be used by software applications that are peripheral to actual production. Here are some Industry 4.0 examples outside the factory.

Industry 4.0 examples outside a shop floor
Industry 4.0 examples - plug in apps

Material shipment to customer
Your scheduling software has access to your monitoring system’s database. It knows exactly how many parts have been produced at any given time, and what is the expected date of completion of a work order.

Material ordering from vendor
You can automatically order raw material from the vendor. The monitoring system directly tracks production from the machine. Another software module uses this data to update the available raw material, and automatically emails an order to the vendor when the reorder quantity is reached.

Part traceability
You can include part traceability in the manufacturing monitoring system. The vendor marks each part raw material (casting, forging, etc.) with a unique serial number engraved on it as bar code or QR code. As each part is loaded onto a machine, its serial number is recorded in the software. If a part is rejected any time for a raw material defect, your software can talk to the vendor’s database and get the serial numbers of other parts that were made in the same batch of castings, so you can check them for the same material defect. This can then be used to track down and replace all parts from the same batch. Your vendor’s software reads this data and deducts the rejected parts from your next invoice value or adds additional parts to the next order quantity. The vendor also uses this data to fix the issue.

Your scheduling software (that is talking to the monitoring software’s database) can track the position of the truck carrying the shipment of incoming raw material, Possible delays in shipment because of a truck breakdown, traffic jam or accident can be relayed from the truck driver’s terminal. The software can estimate the time of its arrival, and plan production accordingly. Your vendor’s software too has access to this same data, and can take a decision (or inform people who can take a decision) to send another consignment on an alternative route. Similarly, your customers can know the date of completion of a work order and your expected shipment date, track your trucks and know when the material is going to arrive at their works. This is one of the Industry 4.0 examples that makes a big difference in Just In Time (JIT) production.

If your machines are maintained by an outside firm, the instant a machine breaks down, the monitoring system can send an SMS and email alert to the concerned person. You can control spares parts inventory or automatically order spares for preventive and predictive maintenance, based on machine running hours and condition monitoring.

None of these Industry 4.0 examples is science fiction or highly complex, and is easy to implement with LEANworks Cloud Industry 4.0 system. LEANworks Cloud tracks machine activity in real time (which means the instant any activity occurs), and stores the data in a database on the cloud . You can get any other software like ERP, SPC, Scheduling or logistics to pick up data from LEANworks’ database to perform a variety of other functions automatically. LEANworks Cloud is plug-and-play, which means you can get it up and running in minutes, without extensive customization or long installation.

Industry 4.0 examples of benefits

These are live case studies of Industry 4.0 examples of LEANworx users.

  1. CapEx reduction – no new machines purchased for 2 years. View case study
    Firm froze new machine purchases for 2 years, even though their orders were increasing every year.
  2. Downtime at shift change was eliminated. View case study
    Downtime in a shop was 1 hour due to late start and early stoppage in shifts. Reduced to almost zero after LEANworx was installed.
  3. 3-shifts working reduced to 2-shifts working. View case study
    How a firm made the same number of parts in 2 shifts, that they were making in 3 shifts earlier. This happened in 7 months.
  4. OEE improvement of 23 % in 5 months. View case study
    How a firm improved its OEE dramatically in just a few months, painlessly.
  5. Unknown production quantity is now known, accurately. View case study
    A firm had no idea of production quantities on their high speed machines. LEANworx now tells them exactly how many parts are made, every hour, every shift.
  6. Big downtime ‘waiting for tool’ eliminated, with a simple fix. View case study
    A firm had a downtime of 1 hour a day on critical HMCs. It was unknown till LEANworx reported the issue. It was completely eliminated with a simple and inexpensive fix.
  7. Production monitoring system improves payment of wags and incentives. View case study
    Productivity in a firm improved dramatically after operators were paid wages and incentives based on actual production and efficiency, and motivation levels improved dramatically.


Once upon a time, when I almost got fried by a high tension electric wire….

Many moons ago I went to a place called Timbaktu, 170 km from Bangalore. Yes, that’s actually the name of the place, and it’s not the one in Mali, which is 8600 km away. I used to be a very active member of Bangalore’s nascent waste segregation program, and I was invited one weekend by the Timbaktu Organic Collective to conduct a workshop on waste segregation for their people.

I hopped onto a bus in Bangalore at 4 AM with my bicycle, me inside, the bike on top. I got off the bus at a town 100 km from Bangalore, a couple of hours later. The bus stopped just below some low hanging electric wires, and I did notice them. I climbed on to its roof to get my bike down, but momentarily forgot about the wires. As I picked up my bike and stood up, my head touched one of the wires. I think I would have been fried instantly if not for the fact that I had my cycling helmet on. Or maybe roasted, not fried – frying requires oil, and there was no oil around. Good thing that some wacko logic in my brain caused me to wear the helmet before I climbed onto the bus, instead of after. My blood ran cold for a couple of minutes after this, thinking of what could have been. “Would I really have got roasted?” is a question that arose later – maybe my head touched the neutral wire, maybe my rubber soled shoes would have helped, etc. But then who wants to play Russian Roulette with electricity, right ?

I got the bike off the bus, then cycled the remaining 70 km on a nice narrow country road followed by a boring highway. I turned off the highway after some distance, cycled 5 km down a mud road, and came across a sign that had Gandhi’s wonderful quote ,’Live simply that others may simply live’.

Right after this was the collection of beautiful buildings that were to be my home for 2 days, part of the Timbaktu Collective. The Collective is doing a great job in ecological restoration of waste lands, organic farming, alternative banking, education and disability support. Over the past 30 years they’ve transformed one of the driest parts of the country into an oasis of green. In return for my workshops I got clean air, a great place to stay, and great food for 2 days.

I also had a big snake go past me a couple of meters away, both of us acting nonchalant, like we never saw each other. I had no idea if it was one of the commonest 4 venomous species, since I hadn’t learnt to identify them. That’s a skill I learnt recently in a 2-day workshop on snakes, along with the skill of not running away at 100 kmph at the sight of a snake.

About his blog from LEANworx: Plug-and-play Industry 4.0 system for MSMEs.

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