Industrie 4.0 and then some
While many companies are busy putting Industrie 4.0 concepts into practice in their factories, new challenges are already knocking at the door. For example, demand for customized products is on the rise. Fraunhofer researchers have set out to develop technologies to meet these emerging requirements and take Industrie 4.0 to the next level in a lighthouse project called Go Beyond 4.0.
The basics of customized mass production are easily explained with a visit to the pizzeria around the corner. It is nothing unusual for a diner to order a Pizza Napoli base and then pile on the special requests – hold the olives, add some mushrooms, how about some extra capers. Ten minutes later, a steaming hot pizza pie replete with the diner’s favorite toppings arrives on a plate.
What has long been the norm in catering – a standard product tailored to the buyer’s taste – is now sweeping the manufacturing industry. The challenge for manufacturers is to find a way of customizing on the fly in highly flexible, connected Industrie 4.0 factories. This is akin to asking for bespoke products off the rack, delivered with assembly-line speed and reliability.