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Huawei, NXP get ready for Industry 4.0

Posted: 24 Apr 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Industry 4.0? smart factory? advance manufacturing?

Governments, industry groups and start-ups are contributing largely to the advancement of Industry 4.0, a brainchild of the German government, which is known as "smart factory" or "advance manufacturing" in other countries.

Recently, Huawei and NXP announced an agreement to jointly explore the Industry 4.0 market. The two companies plan to join forces, using Huawei's manufacturing power and NXP's connectivity and security technology, to develop new products and standards.

"Huawei and NXP will collaborate in the following areas: physical layer, network layer and cyber security. The partnership will fully integrate Huawei's ICT infrastructure and connectivity solutions and NXP's secure connectivity solutions for Industry 4.0. Collaboration will focus on Industry 4.0 applications, such as factory automation, logistics 4.0, wireless secure connections and sensor networks," the press release stated.

China is potentially a leading customer for this Industry 4.0 movement. With that in mind, the two companies said "[they] will develop a global leading Industry 4.0 networking solution that creates sustainable value for customers in Greater China region and potentially across the globe."

The Chinese plan to invest $1.25 trillion over the next three years in modernising and transforming the nation's industry in a bid to re-shape the huge manufacturing sector and turn it into a streamlined paragon of efficiency and flexibility.

One of the key factors in making the change is power efficiency. Today, China's manufacturing industry is extremely power hungry and consumes most of the electricity generated by power plants, which also churn out mountains of pollution. Of all the power generated, industry motors consume 46 per cent. If those motors were replaced with more efficient machines and better control systems that figure could be drastically reduced.

We are already experiencing parts of this Industry 4.0 revolution. The Internet of Things (IoT) is being introduced across industrial, commercial and service sectors. Companies are installing connected sensors along the supply chain and commercial corridors to monitor and track the flow of parts, raw materials, goods and services. The IoT is not only transforming factory control and production structures, it is also increasing agility and flexibility in the production process.

The advent of 3D printing is also fuelling the Industry 4.0 revolution. No longer is it necessary to wait for production facilities somewhere else to manufacture expensive prototypes. This will enable industry to individualise to a high degree even the smallest volumes, while retaining optimum productivity and making multi-variant production a reality.

"There are three things really that need to be in place for Industry 4.0 to become a reality," according to Tim Dawson, senior director, industrial automation at IHS Technology. First: more control throughout the system and more distributed control. Second: pervasive sensing. And third: efficient big data analysis.

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