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How Is Industry 4.0 Changing Metal Forming?

EmilyNewton
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Industry 4.0 technology — like IoT devices, artificial intelligence and new robots — is having a major impact in most industries. The metal forming industry is likely to be no exception.

Already, new Industry 4.0 technology is helping metal forming companies improve quality and gather new types of workflow data. At the same time, digitization of OEMs and clients may require the industry to upgrade, regardless of potential benefits.

This is what metal forming industry experts need to know about Industry 4.0 and how it may change things in the near future.

The Direct Impact of Industry 4.0 Tech on Metal Forming

The specific application of Industry 4.0 technology often varies from business to business.

In some cases, it’s mostly used for predictive analytics — like algorithms that can detect and prevent potential quality or safety issues.

Patrik Rieder, CEO of Hoffmann GmbH, told STAMPER magazine that novel technology has become increasingly important to how the company does business. “Using data in conjunction with Industry 4.0 to anticipate and prevent potential quality incidents is another crux of our work,” he said. “Using methods that involve artificial intelligence will play an ever-increasing role in the future, and here Hoffmann is working with customers and research institutes to further develop thematic content.”

Automated quality control systems are a popular application of Industry 4.0 technology across industries. Many stamping machine manufacturers have begun incorporating quality control systems directly into new devices. This potentially reduces the need for revisions and making compliance with quality standards — like the ISO 9001 standard — while also boosting productivity.

DEES Hydraulic Industrial Co. Ltd, a Taiwan-based metal former, uses Industry 4.0 for similar purposes. By directly integrating Industry 4.0 technology into hot forming processes, it’s possible to automate and collect data with a transfer system. This data can be invaluable for operations a business has less experience with — like hot-forming alloys to create high-strength materials.

The company is also using Industry 4.0 technology to enable remote monitoring systems that use the internet to provide managers with essential information about operations, even when they are not on-site.

Other uses of Industry 4.0 technology by DEES include AI for history review and program-fixing purposes and the use of VR to provide a 720° view of the company and its facilities.

Potential Use Cases and Benefits of Industry 4.0 Across Metal Forming

The use-cases deployed by these two businesses show how most metal formers have started to use Industry 4.0 technology. Typically, the major advantage these technologies offer is streamlining, accelerating, and automating data collection and analysis.

The use-cases of IoT and AI that help businesses in these areas are popular across industries, meaning several heavy industry-ready solutions are already available.

One of the most common use-cases is predictive maintenance. This strategy builds on an existing preventive maintenance model by using IoT devices or other smart monitors to capture real-time data from essential equipment. This typically includes information on operating conditions, like temperature, vibration, timing or even machine lubrication.

This data can provide the information needed for a remote monitoring system that alerts staff automatically when something goes wrong — like unusual behaviour that suggests a broken or malfunctioning component.

Over time, as the system collects more information, it can use this data to create baselines and predictive algorithms that can forecast when a machine will fail. This allows businesses to more effectively plan maintenance and create upkeep schedules, often reducing costs while improving uptime and equipment life span.

Predictive analytics and remote monitoring offer significant utility for metal forming companies — especially as the industry faces a labour shortage and supply chain disruptions that may not resolve until well into the future. As a result, many metal forming companies need to do more with less.

Remote monitoring lets a single team member observe many different sites or machines at the same time. Predictive analytics can help businesses identify current or potential quality issues — preventing costly rework and revisions while boosting product quality.

These applications of Industry 4.0 can simplify automation or monitoring. The technology can also provide better data that businesses may use to make informed decisions on streamlining workflows and metal forming processes.

Transforming Tier 1 Processes May Require Change Upstream

Some industry experts also believe the metal forming industry will adopt Industry 4.0 technology due to changing practices at the Tier 1 level, mainly by OEMs that purchase the material.

Many of these large OEMs are adopting Industry 4.0 technology for the same reasons as some metal forming companies. A growing labour gap and ongoing supply chain disruptions have made efficiency, automation and forecasting more important than ever.

In an attempt to deal with shortages of workers and critical resources, these companies have accelerated their adoption of AI, IoT and robotics technology. Experts predict these shifts will cause significant changes in each business’s data and knowledge sharing mechanism, requiring metal forming companies to digitize their processes to keep their systems aligned with purchasers’.

For example, suppose a business chooses to adopt new digital design tools. In that case, suppliers may be required to employ new technologies themselves to process and use client-provided order schematics and design files.

Industry 4.0 Technology May Shake up Metal Forming

Novel technology designed for heavy industry applications may soon transform the metal forming industry. Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things offer significant benefits for metal forming companies — like improved automation, data-collection, remote monitoring and forecasting capabilities.

However, the adoption of Industry 4.0 technology outside the metal forming industry may push companies to transition sooner rather than later. Investment may be necessary to keep their business and technology aligned with purchasers.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She has over three years experience writing articles for the tech and industrial sectors. Subscribe to the Revolutionized newsletter for more content from Emily at https://revolutionized.com/subscribe/

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