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Tag: 4.0

Predictive maintenance is one of the core applications in Industry 4.0

By analyzing vast amounts of data collected from a network of connected sensors installed in production systems, it enables companies to make reliable predictions of how the condition of a machine or system will develop over time and when maintenance is required. However, the conditions of the production systems have a direct influence on the quality of the final product.

Therefore, it is possible to establish a very close link between predictive maintenance and predictive quality. Finally, these new technological scenarios offer opportunities for the development of service models, allowing machine manufacturers to set new standards for managing customer relationships.

Model and infrastructure

The predictive model is at the heart of all predictive maintenance scenarios: the modeling starts with the identification of relevant parameters, such as temperature, pressure, vibration or visual characteristics. The basis is in the historical data. By applying the model to the historical data, the model can be tested to identify its capabilities and the forecast accuracy can be adjusted. Machine Learning technology can support this process, making the model more and more “smart” and increasing its predictive power.

As a prerequisite, the IT infrastructure and networks must be able to handle high volumes of data. Internet of Things and Big Data are the main keywords in this regard. The harmonization of different types of data is of crucial importance to discover hidden correlations between measured values and the propensity to defect. In this context, cloud technology offers some central advantages such as high scalability and global accessibility via the Internet.


With JOULEHUB EXPERIENCE, JOULEHUB offers a production operations management platform that integrates all shopfloor equipment making data accessible to a wide range of applications. Through JOULEHUB EXPERIENCE, condition monitoring data from the equipment can be easily analyzed for predictive maintenance purposes.

JOULEHUB also supports industrial companies through tailor-made innovation and service design, developing new business models based on the latest technologies and management consulting, to successfully transform companies in line with the paradigms of Industries 4.0.

JOULEHUB can leverage extensive knowledge and experience in all relevant areas, such as Machine Learning, Cloud Computing, Data Science and IoT and Architecture.

Predictive maintenance in practice

The higher the quality requirements for a product, the less tolerable the deviations in production parameters become. A metallurgical production site producing high-precision components for the automotive, pharmaceutical, chemical or medical industries can predict material defects with high accuracy by closely monitoring production conditions and the status of production facilities.

These analyses allow rapid adjustments to ongoing production processes and to suspend subsequent production steps to save energy if necessary. On the other hand, the correlations between machine performance and defect susceptibility become visible. Maintenance can be scheduled accordingly to ensure adherence to previously defined thresholds. This proactive maintenance avoids unplanned and costly downtime and contributes to predictive quality assurance.

The main advantage for the manufacturing industry is superior overall equipment efficiency (OEE):

  • Increased availability due to more efficient maintenance planning;
  • Improved product quality through faster identification and removal of quality deviations;
  • Reduce warranty cases and rejects through improved product quality.

Industry 4.0: Benefits


  • Possibility to detect, visualize and modify in real time the production parameters;
  • Possibility of optimizing production according to different criteria;
  • Efficiency of energy consumption;
  • Automatic control of the use of PPE;

Internal logistics

  • automatic movement of goods and their tracking in the company;
  • efficiency of the processes of management of incoming goods;
  • automated management and warehouses;


  • possibility to reorder in an automated way the goods in exhaustion;
  • possibility to have transactions conditioned to the state of the goods;
  • automatic certification of transactions;


  • transition from preventive to predictive maintenance;
  • Increasing operator safety;
  • reduction in operator training times and costs;
  • reduction of machine downtime;

External logistics

  • automation of the loading/unloading of the warehouse in the management system;
  • automation of unloading scheduling;
  • increase of the transporter/internal warehouse coordination;
  • modelling of the behaviours of the different actors along the supply chain;

Distribution and sale

  • acquisition of purchase or interaction data directly from the store shelf;
  • acquisition of real and real time sales data;
  • automation of invoicing.

How Industry 4.0 is giving ERP a new lease of life

There’s no question that the manufacturing industry is moving at a rapid pace. Assembly lines are becoming smarter, R&D becoming more innovative, and operations becoming slicker. Manufacturing businesses are embracing new technologies and utilising everything from the Internet of Things, to smart devices, in order to build a competitive advantage and stay ahead during highly competitive times.

But while new technologies are coming thick and fast, there is one application that has been a vital tool in the manufacturer’s arsenal for the last 50 years. There’s one application that streamlines efficiencies across entire supply chains and there’s one application that is continuing to grow in order to keep up with, and seamlessly integrate with new, more recent technologies. That technology is the humble Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system – a technology that has been around for decades, but which remains the next big thing in Industry 4.0.

Boosting factory efficiency

The smart factory of the future is one that is capable of delivering shorter product runs, manufacturing more complex products with more frequent material changes, resulting in quicker deliveries, different mixes of packaging and distribution, better change forecasting, supply chain management, and product traceability.

ERP has been helping businesses achieve all of this for many years. Yes, the stories of manufacturers saving time and money with ERP are everywhere – and they’re all true, but many of these document a single business process. Imagine the efficiencies that a business could achieve with seamless integration of planning, materials management and procurement, manufacturing, financial and business intelligence processes through one single system. ERP can deliver complete factory automation and unify multiple business processes, and disparate systems to better connect all facets of your supply chain. It can enable you to work smarter, faster, and spend more time focusing on product innovation and servitization, instead of operating manual tasks to try and plug the gaps left in your poorly automated supply chain processes.

Get a handle on those robots

Like it or not, the age of robotation is coming to manufacturing. Industry 4.0 is a period where manufacturing businesses are improving machine uptime, decreasing labour costs, consolidating factory space and saving on capital expenditure – robots facilitate all of these.

However, the introduction of robots to the factory floor means that a busy manufacturing manager now has yet another asset to manage. And what happens when one of them ultimately fails in a way that a human worker rarely does?

By linking robots to your ERP system, and integrating their data streams into your ERP data, you can better schedule robot maintenance and analyse their output to make them move orders forward more effectively. And by using ERP to adjust your product designs and held inventory, you can consistently change and modify your designs and materials to reap even more value from your robots.

Help your business leverage the Internet of Things

From product development to production control and after-sales, connected devices are providing manufacturing businesses with a higher level view of their supply chains and enabling them to make better informed decisions, more quickly. Add the Internet of Things into the mix, and the possibilities for a manufacturing business become endless.

Many manufacturing businesses are starting to fit sensors to their products to analyse their performance in terms of their effectiveness safety levels, durability and other critical values. By sending this information directly to your ERP solution, you can update Bills of Materials, adjust design specifications and adjust processes to continually improve your products through production. By leaving sensors on products post production, you can feed this information into ERP to track the lifecycle of a product and use this information to deliver a greater service to your customers by alerting them when a product may need maintenance, and to streamline or alter your production strategy for continuous product improvement. The use of sensors in manufacturing post production is nothing new, but ERP offers a way to route the masses of data collected by the sensors into your design and engineering processes to enable continuous improvement.

Greater productivity, improved efficiency and higher flexibility are the three traits of any competitive manufacturing business during Industry 4.0 and unsurprisingly, three benefits that ERP can deliver. The businesses that truly thrive during the fourth industrial revolution will be those that continue to use ERP as a mission critical supply chain tool, and continue to think up new and innovative purposes for their solution. After all, ERP has evolved throughout the last 50 years, just imagine where it will be in the next 50?

Industry 4.0 and the Drive in Productivity

Digitization, automation, and data collection has been driving the fourth industrial revolution in recent years, otherwise known as Industry 4.0. We’ve seen a phenomenal rise in the establishment of smart factories and smart data, but how has Industry 4.0 impacted the supply chain? The supply chain network is a complex and multi-faceted web. It is all too easy for one weak link to completely break down the chain. By digitizing the vital processes that make up the supply chain, manufacturers will not only future proof their business but will benefit from a significant rise in productivity and efficiency.¨

Building one transparent ecosystem

For any manufacturer, regardless of the size of the company, the supply chain is a hugely complicated and multifaceted eco-system. A lack of clarity can mean that processes and relationships can break down, disrupting the efficiency of the entire chain. Complete transparency enables businesses to not only respond to problems in real time but also to anticipate any issues and respond to them in advance.

Ultimately, digitization is the key to creating a transparent supply chain ecosystem. Through the installation of a digitized and fully integrated supply chain network, companies are able to respond to customer demands more effectively and efficiently, ultimately improving productivity.

Investing for the future

There is no quick fix to digitising an entire supply chain. This complete transition will take time and will be costly, but once completed manufacturers will reap the benefits for many years to come. In the last ten years, Essentra Components has invested in over £13.5 million in upgrading, future proofing and digitising the manufacturing operations at their Kidlington site in the UK.

Driving efficiencies

The creation of smart machines, linked to each other and to the cloud, ultimately speeds up set up times and installation processes, driving efficiencies in production whilst also reducing costs. By linking these smart machines to the cloud, process engineers are able to access machines remotely, diagnosing and resolving problems more quickly, ensuring the machines are back up and running in the shortest time possible. This quick exchange of information is revolutionary and boosts the agility and responsivity of the entire chain.

There is no quick fix to investing in the digitization of the supply chain network but, manufacturers wanting to compete on a global scale must begin implementing a digitized supply chain network now. By doing so, businesses can respond to customer demand in real time, ultimately improving the experience for both the manufacturers and the customers. Manufacturers must be reassured by the fact that this long term investment will pay dividends to the company for many years to come.

Contact us today to find out more.

Key Differences Between Production and Prototype Tooling

In product development, testing is a critical factor. In some cases engineers need to demonstrate how a new design will perform as part of management approval for investment into production. In other cases, regulatory requirements require testing of products from representative materials and processes that correspond to those intended. As part of its prototyping methodology, manufacturers often use different strategies for executing prototypes depending on the purpose of the parts. When injection molding is involved in the final product, the use of specially engineered polymers in the product specification may result in the need to injection mold the parts being used in testing in order to get reliable results. Depending on the circumstances, the final production injection molds may be used or separate prototype tooling may be utilized. The goal is to ensure a superior prototype and timely testing, which helps identify design changes before taking a product into full production.

There are a number of key decisions, which go into the prototype tooling process, which enables a design team to select the appropriate build strategy. A key element to consider is the degree of uncertainty or uniqueness of a particular design. The more unique a given design is from a company’s previous manufacturing experience, the more critical it is to test process and product early. Likewise, overall program schedule plays a big factor. The component in need of testing may just be one part of an overall system being developed. Final production tooling timing may be aligned more with the overall system’s development schedule. If so, waiting for production tooling may be a costly risk delaying valuable testing time. In those cases, a simple prototype tool to allow early evaluation of the component or sub-system may be a great investment. Finally, the likelihood a product may change should also be a factor in considering if separate prototype tooling should be used. If a design change is likely or probable, it is better to identify this early rather than executing the change to final production tooling which could require welding on the tool steel or other changes which might compromise the integrity of the mold for long run use.

For both production and prototyping, every tool is different. Two factors, which strongly influence the distinction between the two, are as follows:

  • Production Quantity – The degree of automation in a tool is often correlated with the production quantity intended. High production molds often are highly automated with wear maintenance provisions, sensing and process control capability built into the design. These factors add to the time and cost of the tooling but provide cost and processing efficiencies in the actual volume molding itself. Likewise high production molds are often multi-cavity allowing several parts of the same design to be molded simultaneously. Prototype molds by contrast, typically have limited automation and cavities, saving time and cost in fabrication and thus are suited to low volume molding with quicker development time.
  • Hard vs. Soft Tooling – Another difference between the prototype tooling process and production tooling process has to do with tooling materials. Production tooling is often made from hardened P20, H13 or other tool steel suitable for repeated use and long tool life. Heat-treating and surface hardening or plating are also often utilized. Prototype tools are often called soft tools based on the fact that aluminum and or mild steel are often used. This tooling material can be cut quicker in the machining process allowing for faster and more cost effective prototype tools. The tradeoff however is that tool life may be limited depending on the plastic intended to be molded and processing is not optimized for shortest cycle time. Soft tooling can offer affordability for both production and prototyping. However, because it allows for quick turnarounds of samples, it is often the preferred choice for prototypes.

Tooling is a big investment and cost is always an important deciding factor. Therefore, a manufacturing company will determine which type of tooling makes the most sense from a financial perspective and any product based factors necessary to make the right choice.

Innovative Prototyping and Production Services

The JouleHub team of experts can assist your team in the process of making critical decisions about machines, material, and tooling and providing the support services needed regardless of choice. For a superior quality prototype or product, we would love the opportunity to help. Visit us online or call to speak with a company representative regarding your project.

The Future of farming 4.0: drones and artificial intelligence

The digital transformation has brought about changes to our way of life at every level, even the everyday — changes that aren’t necessarily very visible or disruptive. This is a necessary innovation seeing how the current model for agriculture–considering the social and environmental challenges the world faces– is no longer sustainable.

But it’s also about innovation that doesn’t turn its nose up at tradition. Quite the opposite–it embraces that knowledge and spreads it better and faster with big data, improving the taste and quality of products. And it’s the traditional companies, the ones most closely involved in this push for innovation, that need to invest in the most promising startups, so they don’t miss out on the chance to ensure their products are high quality and produced according to a sustainable and robust model.

What is farming 4.0?

Back in the 90s, the concept of Precision Agriculture (PA) started to gather speed. This was a new technological approach comprised of GPS, satellite technology and software-enhanced machinery.

Recent figures from the mechanical industry in Europe show that 70-80% of agricultural machinery sold today have at least one component using PA technology. Yet it’s been tough getting the technology to take off in Europe. In Italy for example, only a fraction of agricultural land uses PA technology. According to the watchdog Smart AgriFood, the Italian PA market is worth just €100 million.

Meanwhile in France, Germany and the UK, companies that have adopted PA techniques exceed 20%, and in the US this number reaches 80%. Farming 4.0 isn’t just a necessary evolution, it’s also useful for facing the impending food emergency: it’s estimated that the world’s population will reach 9 billion by 2050 and natural resources aren’t infinite.