When most people think of Industry they probably they imagine a big, noisy place where everything runs at the steady pace dictated by giant machines. Raw materials are transformed into finished goods, unvaryingly and at a predictable rate, while people working there adapt to the processes and needs of the machines.
While this is still true in many cases, the Industrial world is changing in a trend that goes under a variety of names including Industry 4.0, the 4th industrial revolution, Industrial Internet of Thing (IIoT) and smart manufacturing.
Often revolutions look like evolutions to those who are involved at the time. Only with the perspective of history is it clear that a “revolution” happened.
At ST we believe that “Smart Industry” is an (r)evolution that builds on the many different technology advances over the past decades (evolution) but which will fundamentally change the way factories and workplaces function (revolution). For us “Smart” means doing things more efficiently, more flexibly and in a more environmentally friendly manner. It also means the manufacturing will be safer for people working there.
To achieve this we see industrial infrastructure evolving in three directions:
- With Industry consuming 50% of the energy in the world and factories accounting for 80% of that, reducing their energy use will play a major role in putting the planet on a more sustainable course.
- Higher efficiency can be improved at all points in power usage with a particular focus on power conversion & energy harvesting, power management, power storage and motor control (since 50% of the energy in a factory is consumed by electric motors)
More intelligent and aware
- Machines are aware of the humans around them and provide new interfaces such as smart tools, augmented reality and touchless interfaces for easier and safer interactions.
- Sensors collect information about every machine all the time. Then safe & secure distributed local processing allows data to be turned into information, allowing real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance and repair.
- Products contain the instructions for their manufacturing and carry that information with them throughout their lifecycle.
- Machines are connected inside the factory to the larger supply chain and to the cloud. When orders can be customized in real time and only what is needed is actually made, this enables optimal planning and flexibility in manufacturing.
- Real-time communication down to the lowest level of sensors and actuators, ensuring optimal reactivity and real-time analysis processes
- And of course all of these communications are secure
Semiconductors are a key enabler behind this new Smart Industry, pervasive through the industrial infrastructure and behind the digital intelligence that it makes possible throughout the entire supply chain. As a supplier with over 30 years’ experience in developing products for factory automation and industrial applications, ST is playing a leadership role with its catalog of products that help make smart industry a reality, today.