This year’s Advanced Engineering on the 2 & 3 November at the NEC, Birmingham will bring together all that’s great in UK engineering and manufacturing, including the latest innovations in automation from the businesses that are making the future of industry happen today. As well as the three companies highlighted above, there are already nearly 20 exhibitors in the Automation category and that’s a number that we fully expect to see increase as we move nearer to the show. So, if automation is your interest, save yourself time and money by visiting the companies who are creating automation technologies while they’re all under one roof over the two days of Advanced Engineering 2016.
The latest phase in a long revolution
These days, there always a term for it and, with the latest manifestation of industrial process and philosophy, the term is Industry 4.0; the fourth industrial revolution. The first industrial revolution came about with the application of mechanisation to production while the early 20th century saw production transformed with the moving assembly line – the second industrial revolution. During the 1960s and seventies, computers and the automation of tasks using simple robots became the third industrial revolution. In the fourth industrial revolution, ‘Industry 4.0’, a term coined at the 2011 Hannover Fair, the availability of the Internet of Things (IoT) with the generation and application of big data has made possible a wholly autonomous and self-regulating industrial process. It’s a new way of doing things made possible by technology developments of recent years.
Machines talking to machines… M2M
In the Industry 4.0 environment, machines communicate with each other (M2M; the industrial IoT) and take into account prevailing conditions as well as identifying performance patterns to regulate their production actions in a way that produces the most efficient and effective process. They can also quickly adapt to changing conditions or varying requirements, or predict where there is likely to be a failure and initiate pre-emptive maintenance at a time convenient to the process. Furthermore, because machines and systems can now be linked digitally throughout the supply chain, extremely complex production processes can be achieved.
Adaptability and flexibility
In theory, a Smart Factory of the Industry 4.0 generation will not need human intervention except for service delivery, monitoring and oversight functions. It should also, because any adjustments to the process can be automatic, be able to reflect changing inputs, parameters or requirements, to produce a much wider range of options, enabling a far greater degree of customisation – a great marketing plus.
Anton Huber, Chief Executive of Siemens automation division summed it up for Stuart Nathan’s article in the October 2014 issue of ‘The Engineer’ as the ability “to literally have everything imaginable connected to a network so that information from all these connected ‘things’ can be stored, transferred, analysed and acted upon in new, and usually automated ways via network connections with everything else.”
One vital component without which Industry 4.0 might never have happened is the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s one of those terms often bandied around the meeting table but who really understands what the IoT is or why it matters? Try looking in techopedia where the IoT is both defined and explained on one page.
There’s no denying that UK manufacturing has been in decline for more than three decades but Industry 4.0 offers the chance to re-establish UK success in the more advanced and high-tech manufacturing and engineering sectors. To this end, the UK Government launched its Industrial Strategy in 2015 with the specific intention to support six components in manufacturing success…
In his November 2015 article ‘Industry 4.0: vital for UK manufacturing growth’ Steve Brambly, deputy director of Gambica (the trade association for the automation, control, instrumentation and laboratory technology sectors in the UK) explains how Industry 4.0 is not just another ‘Buzz’ term but is a disruptive development which no future looking business would wish to ignore.
With the increasing importance of Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing, Advanced Engineering 2016 will see a growing representation from the businesses whose developments are transforming the idea of Industry 4.0 from a new way of thinking into a new way of doing things. A lot of these exhibitors will be found in the ‘Automation’ group of exhibitors but here are two or three to whet your appetite to discover more about the change that will define your sector in the next couple of decades.
KUKA Robotics UK Ltd.
In 1973 KUKA developed the first industrial robot with six electric motor-driven axes, called FAMULUS. Today, robots are an integral and essential component in modern manufacturing processes, including digital production… they are, perhaps, the most important ‘things’ in the Internet of Things or the Industrial Internet that is the information infrastructure within which industry 4.0 has been made possible. KUKA has been in the UK for over 30 years and will be exhibiting at Advanced Engineering 2016 on Stand B53 where visitors will be able to discover more about robotics and how they can transform a manufacturing process as part of a digital manufacturing environment.
Kawasaki Robotics (UK) Ltd.
With origins as a nineteenth century shipbuilder, Kawasaki has grown into one of the world’s largest industrial businesses with interests across the full spectrum of engineering and manufacturing from motorcycles to the tunnel boring machines that built the Channel Tunnel. Kawasaki Robotics builds on this illustrious heritage with a range of industrial automation solutions for every application. Whether it’s arc welding or spot welding; material handling or material removal; assembly or painting or any of the other essential industrial processes, Kawasaki has a robot that can do the job. At this year’s Advanced Engineering UK, Kawasaki Robotics UK will be on stand H40 where visitors will be able to view the different robots and see demonstrations of what they can do.
Expert Advanced Manufacturing Technologies
Expert has been supplying engineering and manufacturing businesses since 1972 and, today, offers a broad range of engineering expertise for tooling and automation programmes. At Advanced Engineering 2016, Expert will be on stand G21 where visitors will be able to discuss and see the firm’s automation and tooling services. Capabilities on offer include automated product assembly, simultaneous engineering, 3D virtual and discrete simulation manufacturing automation and Technologies, and process engineering among a lengthy array of products and services. Expert will undertake automation and tooling projects in the UK, Europe and around the world.