To understand the requirements of a Finishing 4.0 reality context, it is useful to offer a brief and limited preliminary and introductive example of an Industry 4.0 experience.
The sample table reported below (Table 1) briefly shows a list of projects that some manufacturing enterprises aim to follow or pursue, in order to develop an Industry 4.0 project.
The description illustrated can be furthermore synthesized into the following points:
a) Which kind of technological elements are necessary to the project?
b) Which kind of categories of external actors have been involved with significant tasks?
c) What amount of the investments have been allocated to support the project?
As regards to the goals that the manufacturing enterprises allocate to its Manifattura 4.0 projects (Table 2), several interpretations have been shown, but all are attributable to three levels of interventions.
• Level I: the interventions are aimed at bigger efficiency, or fulfilment of the customer requirements or regulations.
• Level II: the interventions are aimed at better satisfying customer expectations. In detail, the "physical product" is enriched with additional services, like assistance, maintenance and consultation required for products, and provides processing for strong digitalization interventions. Therefore the "product system" offered to the customer changes, as well as the business model.
• Level III: at the same time, the interventions produce these three successful business conditions: shorter time-to-market and supply chain, greater efficiency, richer and differentiated product systems.
At all levels, the prevailing attitude is that the different interventions produce, at the same time, advantages of different types (greater efficiency, better customer service, etc.).
The multi-business enterprises point out that, depending on the business, different degrees and types of intervention in view of the Manufacturing 4.0 or Industry 4.0 model are required. Each business has its own target in relation to the competitive system in which it is developed. It is precisely for this reason that, in one case, it was necessary to distinguish between the enterprise’s divisions.
An important "indirect" goal of the digitalisation consists of codifying the knowledge acquired by the single operators: the codified knowhow becomes the company heritage; it doesn’t risk being lost with the release of any partner; and it is easily used and updated.
In terms of efficiency and productivity, two multinational companies point out that their facilities in Italy are completely competitive compared to the Chinese and Korean counterparts. On the other hand, the management of a big Italian company with production distributed in several parts of the world believes that the company in its sector located in Italy can no longer be competitive.
The Industry 4.0 event started from the "technology-push", thus promoting the technological vision that is inspired by the potential that the new technologies can offer. Consequently, it has so far ignored the vision of the market, the one that starts from the needs and challenges of the enterprises to which technologies can respond. To contextualize Industry 4.0 inside the Italian debate, it is suggested to embrace the "market-pull" vision, starting from the knowledge of the peculiarity of the manufacturing of our country. This can clearly define what the benefits are that the business can achieve in both the short and long term thanks to the introduction of the Industry 4.0 concept. Here follows five technological areas that are considered strategic for the implementation of the Industry 4.0:
• Collaborative robotics
• Advanced control and supervision of the production process
• "Digital Factory"
• Internet of Things and Big Data
• Cyber Security
With the aim of introducing an applicative vision of the enabling technologies in such technological areas, each of these challenges are identified as to what manufacturing companies are facing and for which enabling technologies are able to provide answers. In this way, the link(s) between the enabling technologies of Industry 4.0 and its real utility are introduced in the company. The advantages are indicated both in the short-term (coming from the application of technologies already available in the market today) and in the long-term (coming from the application of Industry 4.0 technologies when ready).
Characteristic of the Finishing 4.0 situation
At this stage a first observation arises: what is the difference between the Finishing 4.0 reality and the Manufacturing 4.0 or Industry 4.0?
We can find some of the main distinguishing points inside Table 3:
The table has been set up pointing out the "typical" and "characteristics" aspects of surface finishing – as MMF "Mass Metal Finishing" – and/or PMRF "Precision Material Removal Finishing", not as surface finishing in its broadest sense (not involving coating processes, painting, washing, sandblasting or shot blasting, but exclusively vibratory finishing, barrelling, centrifugal force finishing, drag finishing, wave finishing, carving finishing, eccentric finishing and similar processes).
For some mentioned aspects, some areas or specialized areas of surface finishing different from the ones mentioned in this example are not excluded from being involved but it is recommended to necessarily limit the example given to the vastness of the specialized areas that can be involved in the "Finishing" description.
It is interesting to note that a very important issue like security seems to be missed inside the table. While many Finishing 4.0 solutions are implicit and expected, it can be taken for granted that they establish new solutions that seem to be created for the automation, but in fact, they have further been developed for other aims like: security, ergonomics and operational efficiency for the security of the operator.
In this short example, there are enough elements to issue an editorial "ad hoc" or a specific focus that requires a more detailed article, but there will be enough space and time to devote proper attention in the future to these important aspects of the "Finishing 4.0."
by Paolo Redaelli
Contributing Editor MFN and Rollwasch® Italiana S.p.a.
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