Does I4 include machine tracking of manually operated machines ?
Industry 4.0 involves these:
1. Machine tracking by capture of data from the machine using a sensor.
2. Transfer of the data through internet (IOT) to software on the Cloud.
3. Analysis of the data, followed by controlling of machines or reporting to humans.
You will notice that there is nothing here that indicates the level of automation of the machine. ‘Capture of data from a machine’ means tracking its status, getting data from it – whether it is running or idle, parameters like speed, temperature, pressure, vibrations, etc. What you need to capture depends on the type of machine it is, and what its purpose is. If you can connect a sensor to a machine, you can track it, irrespective of its level of automation. The type of sensor depends on what data you want to acquire, and today’s sensors can track a huge variety of parameters. The data that is acquired is analyzed to report to humans, or control machines. With a manually operated machine, the software cannot control the machine automatically. It can however report to the human who is operating the machine, to take necessary action.
So the answer to the question ‘Does Industry 4.0 include manual machines ?’ is Yes, it does. It includes ANY machines that you can track with sensors, and since sensors can track virtually any machine, Industry 4.0 can include virtually any machine. Hand or manually operated machines, CNC machines, PLC controlled machines, Robots.
LEANworks Cloud machine monitoring system can connect to any machine. If the machine does not have appropriate electronic signals, just retrofit the signals with sensors. ‘Sensors’ sound scary and expensive, but are actually very affordable. For most applications you will just need on/off type sensors – spring loaded mechanical switch, inductive or optical proximity sensor. They cost as little as Rs. 300.
If you’re an SME, just don’t let the cost of Industry 4.0 implementation scare you. It is very affordable by SMEs, as explained in this post.
The strangler fig – an interesting tree
Cycling through a forest recently, I came across a whole lot of strangler fig trees. Very interesting trees, these. A strangler fig (the lighter coloured tree in the picture) starts its life on top of another tree, when a seed is deposited on the top of the tree by a bird or by wind. It grows upwards there to reach the sunlight, and grows roots downwards towards the soil. This is an adaptation for growing in dark forests where a whole lot of trees are trying to grow upwards to reach sunlight. The roots growing downwards cause the ‘strangling’ of the original support tree.
The strangler fig is a hemiepiphyte, a parasitic plant that grows on another plant, like orchids and ferns that grow on trees. A hemiepiphyte spends half its life (hence the hemi, like in hemisphere) as an epiphyte feeding off the support tree, and then when its roots touch the ground it starts feeding on its own too. Strangler figs belong to the genus Ficus, that has 10-odd species, all of whom bear fig fruits, some edible and some not. The fig fruit that we eat is from the Ficus carica, while the banyan is the Ficus Benghalensis (named after Bengal in India). Ficus religiosa is the Peepul tree or the Bodhi tree, considered sacred in Hinduism and Buddhism (because the Buddha attained enlightenment under this tree).
The original support tree sometimes dies because the strangler robs it of sunlight and cuts off its nutrient flow from the soil, and the strangler fig becomes a tree with a hollow central core.