The terms big data, industry 4.0, deep learning, artificial intelligence, and smart technology are just some of the buzz words we hear which describe the trends taking hold of industry. We too are excited by the changes arriving within the world of extrusion. Maillefer welcomes smart technology as a means of taking the manufacturing process to the next level.
Today's production processes are nearly all digitally integrated and automated. The amount of data collected and constantly generated is simply gigantic, making it practically impossible for humans to comprehend without assistance. Fortunately, modern tools and methods are able to process and understand it. Deep learning and computer algorithms sift through huge volumes of data, see complex structures, and relate process data to product quality measurements. The powerful smart technology is being implemented to previously unseen levels of automation control.
The human factor based on gut feeling and empirical decision-making leaves a certain amount of risks in the manufacturing process. Risk reduction is the focus of high-speed and high–precision automated control computer systems. Such systems provide constant 24/7 monitoring and optimization of the manufacturing process, which in practice leads to improved process efficiency and product quality. In addition, automated line control opens up new possibilities for predictive maintenance, thus reducing downtime and further increasing OEE.
Besides the volumes of data required for AI systems to operate accurately, those systems also rely on road maps that represent the knowledge developed by generations of engineers and operators. We are encoding that knowledge and deep learning models into our first series of smart factory solutions. These systems are increasingly gaining the capability to operate equipment better than before.
As the future unfolds, we see operators becoming either facilitators who keep smart lines running or dedicated process specialists, who handle the exceptions and work to improve the AI models. The ideal is to leave the machine making better product under better operating conditions, while having humans concentrate on making better machines.