Since the introduction of the term “Industry 4.0” in Europe or “Industrial Internet of Things” (IIOT) in the US in 2011, an increasing number of companies are looking to implement this concept into their business strategies; however, there are still many who have not taken the first step. Despite numerous advantages like optimization of production processes or improved information processing, many companies are not certain of how to get started.
What is IIOT exactly?
The term IIOT or “Industry 4.0” in Europe, was used to describe a project of the german government in cooperation with industry leaders and academics to digitalize manufacturing. It describes the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution enabling the smart connection of devices and back end data systems in the manufacturing industry.
What are expected Benefits?
In a factory such as e.g. Bühler AG (food production machine manufacturer) the production stages can be categorized as warehouses, transport, intermediate storage, pre-assembly, quality assurance and transport to a packaging department. Within these steps, the digital combination of information, users and material supports work processes at various points.
Warehousemen are equipped with smart glasses for picking components and displaying order details. For more complex content during transport, tablets are used which can display transport details on a map overview of the site to the employees. In the intermediate storage area, the localization of the components via Beacons is transmitted to a smartphone to speed up the picking. This connected operation method between people and machines continues through all production steps.
During every process, status of orders, incident management reporting can determine faulty components or problems and is accessible at any time.
The communication of people and machines helps Bühler AG to avoid sources of error and to optimize working processes.
Industrial Internet of Things – Is there a simple solution?
Creating digital Apps to optimize existing processes and support users with their daily work is an important objective; however, rapid software development can be compromised by a lack of development resources. One solution is to employ the use of a low-code platform that can leverage your existing systems to quickly integrate new technologies. This enables companies to simplify the development process with the greatest flexibility and sustainability.
How can a low-code platform help me to reduce investment costs?
Many companies fear the need of major investments when implementing IIoT projects.
Programming apps by hand is very complex and requires numerous steps from development to deployment. Low-code platforms free the developer up to automate many of these steps. Apps are mostly created by configuring pre-built blocks and not by programming them line by line. This greatly accelerates the development process and allows developers to concentrate on new Apps and optimizing current processes.
The use of visual editors simplifies development allowing the creation of simple, fully functional apps within minutes. This allows employees with little IT knowledge to build simple prototypes by themselves if desired. Visual editing makes it possible to intuitively design surfaces, implement logic and integrate data structures.
The entire development process remains flexible and agile in a low-code platform. Any desired changes and updates are possible at any time even after deployment and for very complex problems there is always the possibility to add your own code.
The work with a low-code platform is extremely sustainable due to the re-usability of the individual building blocks. Once created, e.g. a SAP connector or layout template can be used unlimited times in any other app.
Can a low-code platform help me to support the training of my employees?
Yes, by using a low-code platform that integrates new technologies, companies can train and support their employees for new tasks in multiple ways. One example is through the use of smart glasses or smart watches, non-trained employees can perform complex work processes by using an app with step-by-step instructions and develop their skills in a practical way. Additionally, you can increase work safety e.g. by adding warning signs to the app for smart glasses. For troubleshooting, you can connect to an expert via remote call. Therefore, the expert does not have to be on the spot, but can be consulted if necessary.