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How Big Data affects industrial production

29 April 2015: Edgar Dietrich

Nowadays, everyone is talking about the catchword big data and this topic finds its way into industrial production, too. The background is perfectly clear. On the one hand, you may record data and information quickly and automatically and store them cost-efficiently. On the other hand, the global communication options have increased enormously due to the Internet. As social media show time and time again, the willingness to disclose personal data rises continuously. The data, i.e. the information they contain, thus seem to be the gold of the future. Big companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, google, eBay etc. already tap this potential today and direct their business models more and more to this trend.

What about Big Data in industrial production?

In industrial production, it is particularly important to record valid data and to use a clear structure to store them. This is the only way to make quick evaluations in near real-time and to communicate results reliably. In order to achieve this aim, the topic of Industry 4.0 is frequently discussed in Germany and even supported by the government. Germans actually mention the chronology of the last three industrial revolutions in this context and speak about a looming fourth industrial revolution.

Whether today’s perceptions of Industry 4.0 will live up to their promise, we will not know for another twenty to thirty years. Currently, the declared targets of Industry 4.0 are

  • resource efficiency
  • increase in productivity
  • higher flexibility in production
  • costs for producing a single part similar to the costs for producing a mass product
  • quick provision of information about process conditions
  • higher level of transparency, especially by involving the entire supply chain
  • the single systems communicate with one another and exchange their data directly
  • self-regulated products due to an available object memory.

Especially the necessity to produce customized products in the future and to become ready for the market as quickly as possible requires flexible and efficient developments and production processes;
an approach that gains in importance particularly in high wage countries. You can reach these targets by leaving behind today‘s typical chain of authority and turning to an interconnected world.

Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are the technology required by an interconnected world. These systems are already available on the market. Each system consists of a communicating component and a processing component and is integrated into the interconnected world in the form of an embedded system. Such a system fulfills the respective tasks it receives independently and returns the results to the community. If required, other systems access the respective basis of information. Cyberphysical systems do not only integrate companyinternal systems but also the information available on the Internet. Great important is attached to data management. Since the information have to be available permanently and shall be obtained everywhere, data management takes place in the cloud. However, you need to distinguish between a public and a private cloud. The closer the information is stored to the site of production, the more important becomes data security and structured data management. This principle helps maintaining the competitive edge and ensures a valid evaluation with high performance...

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