Industry 4.0 is the digitization of a companys physical assets and the companys integration into digital ecosystems with its value chain partners, from suppliers to customers (Pwc). It uses smart technology and the use of real-time data to increase flexibility, customization, efficiency and productivity, and to reduce time, costs and innovation cycles. Due to disruptive technologies, the digitization of processes, and an explosive growth in data, Industry 4.0 will have a major impact on the way products are designed, manufactured, assembled, shipped and repaired, and on the people that have to adapt to these changes. Industry 4.0 focuses on nine technologies: autonomous robots, system integration, the internet of things (IoT), simulation, additive manufacturing, cloud computing, augmented reality, big data, and cybersecurity. Through these technologies, new supply chain paradigms can be achieved, and production and related logistics processes will change. This will require innovation on two fronts: smart products and smart processes. It will also require substantial change to the workforce, which will need to be trained and skilled to work in an Industry 4.0 environment; this is one of the biggest challenges of the fourth industrial revolution. In this proposal, our emphasis will be on system integration, simulation, IoT, big data, cloud computing and cybersecurity. We will focus on smart processes as a means to achieve the transition to Industry 4.0 in the areas of supply chain and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).
Siemens Canada has expressed an interest in collaborating with Concordia University and École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) on a research project on Industry 4.0. In this project, the universities are partnering with Siemens AGT and Siemens Industry Software to collaborate on research in two areas under Industry 4.0: 1- supply chain and 2- maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO). Underlying these two areas is the need to prepare and help the workforce transition and adapt to the new needs of Industry 4.0. Both Concordia University and ETS have strong expertise in these areas and are well equipped to meet the required objectives of the project.
Under the supply chain area, the objective of the project is to develop smart supply chains by leveraging the advantage of industry 4.0 technologies for fast, flexible and efficient decision-making. Specific problem areas investigated will be supplier collaboration, collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment of goods, transportation, and global supply chain quality management. In trying to achieve cost reduction and increased efficiency in a companys supply chain, MRO is often overlooked but is key to supply chain optimization. Therefore, the study of MRO operations is key for Siemens. Under the area of MRO, the objective is to digitize processes, and optimize maintenance and repair from the equipment perspective. Specific problem areas to be studied are: automation, tooling, reverse logistics, eco-design, and condition monitoring and predictive analytics. The proposed project is an important step towards preparing Canadian aerospace companies for the fourth industrial revolution.