Learn about the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), Industry 4.0

The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), also known as Industry 4.0, is the use of technology to improve operational efficiency, increase throughput, minimise downtime, improve quality and lower costs. We have an article that explains how beacons are part of 4IR.

There’s a lot more to 4IR than tracking items and analysing data. It also includes areas such as automation, robotics, cyber security and 3D printing. There’s a free online Industry 4.0 Magazine that can help you get up to speed.

It’s also possible to view recent back issues.

Read about Asset Tracking for Manufacturers

iGS02E without PoE

We now have the INGICS iGS02E Bluetooth to Ethernet gateway (without PoE) in stock.

This small device looks for Bluetooth LE devices and sends their advertising on to a server via TCP, HTTP(S) or MQTT including AWS IoT. If you use with sensor beacons, this provides a quick and easy way to provide for IoT sensing.

Compatible with BeaconServer™ and BeaconRTLS™.

We also stock the INGICS PoE splitter.

The Status of Manufacturing and the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)

There’s an article in The Manufacturer magazine on “Manufacturing:the numbers” that highlights some numbers from the Hennik Research’s Annual Manufacturing Report.

In practice, we are finding many organisations are struggling to develop skills, business processes and organisational willpower to implement 4IR. There’s a relatively slow pace in many industries, driven down by the uncertainties of Brexit, Europe and International trading tensions.

Nevertheless, we believe that once these political issues start to play out, the more forward-thinking manufacturers will realise they have to revolutionise their processes in order to compete in an market with complex labour availability and tighter margins due to tariffs. Manufacturers that are able to harness 4IR effectively will be the ones that will be able to differentiate themselves, while the laggards will find themselves more and more at a disadvantage.

Read about Sensing for Industry and IoT
Read about Machine Learning

Beacons and The 4th Industrial Revolution

We previously wrote about how beacons are part of Industry 4.0 and how implementations need to achieve a return on investment. Industry 4.0 is also being called ‘The 4th Industrial Revolution’ (4IR).

Oracle and the EEF have an excellent free, recent, paper (registration NOT required) on The 4th Industrial Revolution: A Primer for Manufacturers. It concludes 4IR isn’t hype and should be taken seriously. Here’s how manufacturers themselves see 4IR:

Manufacturing is undergoing a transformation. The report says it’s all about data connectivity. However, the report falls short on explaining how data can be sensed and captured. Sensor beacons, gateways and beacon platforms such as our BeaconRTLS are one such solution that helps fill that gap.

Read more about beacons and the IoT

IoT Return on Investment for Industry

Mr Beacon has an interesting new interview with Sam Jha, Chief Business Officer of Alpha Ori. Alpha Ori work with the shipping industry that’s still lacking the productivity gains many other industries have experienced through the use of IT. While the interview talks about shipping, it’s equally applicable to all industries.

In the shipping industry, IoT can be used to measure ships’ systems. This can produce thousands of data points per second that can be analysed using ‘big data’ techniques. The key is to identify insights that have value in that they can impact the areas where there are large costs. An example is maintaining up time and using sensing to estimate the life remaining on machinery, detect when things are starting to fail and replace preventative maintenance with predictive and prescriptive maintenance. Better maintained ships can also have the side affect of reducing other costs. Smart ships have lower insurance risk profiles and can hence save insurance costs.

The key message is one of identifying areas where there are large costs and using IT to optimise those areas. In shipping or any industry this usually involves sensing on machinery and systems to maintain optimum up time. It also involves detecting when to perform in-time maintenance to get the maximum life from expensive machinery. Beacons, particularly sensor beacons, provide the sensing part and are especially suitable for areas that don’t have power, lack cabling or are difficult to monitor manually due to accessibility.

Read about beacons and the IoT

Bluetooth Beacons in Factories, IoT and Industry 4.0

McKinsey has a useful chart where they assess the potential impact of the IoT by segment:

It can be seen that ‘Factory’ has the greatest potential. This links with ‘Industry 4.0‘, the current trend for more automation and data exchange in manufacturing with the aim of significantly improving efficiency. But what does this mean in practice and what are challenges? Can these be solved with Bluetooth beacons?

We have learnt that while just about every industry client has different needs, all solutions involve context and location. Context is sensing, while location is where the sensing occurs.

Requirements we have experienced range from being able to pick up documents for particular machinery through to actual sensing such as detecting vibration is within (safety) bounds for ‘aggressive’ equipment. We have also seen the requirement for matching workers with workstations and jobs as well as the tracking of workers, tools, pallets, parts and fabrications. There’s also the need for real-time overviews for short term safety and efficiency management, the same longer term data also being used for process improvement and planning.

So why beacons?

  1. Low power. Sensors need to have a long life because replacing them or their batteries requires human effort and they are sometimes placed in normally inaccessible and dangerous areas. Beacons are ideal for this because some have up to 5+ years battery life and others can be permanently powered.
  2. Sensing. Various off the shelf sensor beacons are available. Custom variants are possible to sense industry specific metrics.
  3. Connectivity. Several gateways are available to connect to WiFi. Alternatively, it’s possible to use smartphones or small single board computers as gateways. There’s a trend for ‘Fog’ or ‘Edge’ gateways that only send pertinent data on to the cloud and can provide direct alerts quicker than being dependent on the latency of the cloud.
  4. Cloud management. Software such as our BeaconRTLS platform allows for the management and visualisation of sensors.
  5. Security. Beacon devices are password protected and the gateway to cloud communication is protected using standard Internet protocols.
  6. IoT needs to be made easy. This is BeaconZone’s role. As we mentioned, with the IoT every client has different needs. We bring together ready-made hardware and software components so that they can be dovetailed to create solutions.

Read about using Beacons in Industry and the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)

Read about BluetoothLocationEngine™