The context and the constraints of the environment push for progress.
In a society driven by technological change, we live surrounded by what could be described as an elusive connected world. Based largely on digital technologies, it has allowed millions of humans to reinvent the way they consume.
With this far-reaching change, some industries are beginning to adapt to the needs of tomorrow by reinventing their means of production. This is what the industrial world is already defining as the "industrial revolution 4.0".
What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution. It brings together digital technologies to monitor every stage of the production process. It is the networking of physical, digital and biological systems within a factory; so that they interact together.
In addition to robotics, which during the 3rd industrial revolution enabled our industries to carry out repetitive and precise tasks, digitisation enables robotic systems to be interconnected. Eventually, like a real hive of activity, they will be able to work in symbiosis through constant feedback of the data collected by all the robots.
This revolution is prompting all companies involved in production, whether mass or customised, to transform themselves by adapting to the arrival of increasingly digital and intelligent technologies. These changes are accompanied by a considerable reduction in production costs, an improvement in product quality, and increased responsiveness.
By adding digital technologies to an automated production system, Industries 4.0 claims to be a smart factory. This is known as the factory of the future.
But how do you become a 4.0 company?
Thanks to the development of new technologies, there are a number of tools available to digitalise production processes. For example, a simple practice that we are all using more and more: EDM (Electronic Document Management), which allows us to manage our use of documents more efficiently. Scanning, acquisition, validation, storage, indexing. Digitisation makes it possible to improve, automate and make more reliable all the processes involved in document management.
The main thing is to create processes for automating and linking the different stages of production. Numerous technologies have now been democratised and are becoming easily accessible in order to automate and interconnect processes: Artificial intelligence, the cloud, cyber-physical systems, analysis software, or even 3D printing.
These tools allow for real-time control and monitoring of the plant's equipment. It also serves to collect data which, after analysis, helps to optimise the production process according to the results obtained. In this way, the speed and quality of product manufacture is continuously improved.
Ultimately, this economic paradigm works for the most responsive and adaptable companies. Here, competitiveness and growth often rhyme with the ability to test and execute quickly. This revolution is for ambitious companies that want to seize an opportunity to respond to market demands.
3D printing, an Industry 4.0 technology
In essence, 3D printing or additive technology is part of Industry 4.0. It has the advantage of being able to produce small or large quantities quickly at a lower cost. This is a direct advantage much sought after by companies. Other advantages and uses make 3D printing more than relevant for companies. Indeed, uses such as allowing reparability, production on demand to avoid overstocking, having a more controlled and relocated production as well as prototyping.
In August 2020, we had 3 weeks to make a connected thermostat support for the company Viessmann. Thanks to the speed of 3D printing, it took us less than 10 days to send them 4 prototypes. There is only one step between design and manufacture: thanks to a 3D drawing, it is possible to have the object in hand almost immediately. The production chain of a product is reduced by eliminating the steps of shaping, drilling, assembly, ... thanks to the successive superposition of thin layers of material that 3D printing offers. There is no need to invest in expensive devices such as moulds. This has enabled Altyorto test a new product without investing in moulds that might not have been suitable in the end. It is simple and inexpensive to make prototypes to validate the product before launching a series thanks to 3D printing.
Also, the modularity of the printers makes it possible to design complex parts. Additive manufacturing thus allows unlimited flexibility and creativity. It gives manufacturers the means to rapidly attack new markets. For example, Leroy Merlin Leroy Merlin called on us to adapt the current product presentation materials for their screwdrivers to their new range. We helped them with the modelling and production to deliver a total of more than 6,000 pieces to their 145 French shops.
3D printing is reshuffling the deck and putting strategic decisions back in the centre of the game. Conquering new markets, adapting to demand, increasing or decreasing quantities, customising and segmenting products, controlling production processes. Combined with Industry 4.0, it also enables quality control and industrial decision-making analysed and supported by data. Speaking of data, a connected printer like the PRO 430 makes it possible to mesh company operating data with data from your production unit. We could, for example, program our connected printers to automatically trigger a production order as soon as an order is received or for a replenishment need in your stock.
Ultimately, it further tightens the links between production and business by making them adaptable to each other in a time that depends only on the will of the decision-maker.
At DAGOMA, we have been using 3D printing since 2014. This technology is not only a step in our production cycle; it is our main revenue generating activity.
We are working to bring Industry 4.0. to companies. In June 2021, we introduced a new printer for professionals: the PRO 430. It can be controlled remotely and can be connected in a private and secure network with several printers. It has intelligent sensors for precise probing. Finally, it is designed to be scalable. It would be possible for the printer to signal a fault it encounters or warn of a lack of filament to finish printing.
Article by Zoé Pétureau with the collaboration of Alexandre Ba