Smart Manufacturing promises improvements in factory floor flexibility, reduced downtime and costs and increased efficiencies through the application of technologies like advanced sensors, controls, software integration, and data analytics. But knowing where to begin from a business, operations, and workforce perspective can be a big challenge. Through the development of smart manufacturing demonstration stations built around industry problem statements we have created bench-scale technology solutions to assist education for both workforce development and technology investment decisions. Smart Manufacturing business and workforce education is a challenge due to the need for data-rich demonstration systems and training materials that span a wide range of topics.
We have developed an educational toolkit and technology demonstration stations that leverage an inexpensive, bench scale approach. Our Factory 4.0 toolkit simulates an extrusion platform to provide lab activities and feature-rich data to explore fundamental concepts of smart manufacturing in a production context for an audience of both undergraduate engineering students and current manufacturing workforce members. Through investigation of the mock production platform and associated data, concepts and applications of modern data-driven tools are explored in the topic areas of data collection and the industrial internet of things, data analytics and predictive modeling for production data, simulation and digital twinning, and process and manufacturing systems optimization. The activities culminate in the exploration of advanced feedback control algorithms and optimization of operating conditions, balancing throughput, quality, and power consumption, using digital twins.
Similar bench-scale platforms include factory floor simulators such as a machine bottling line, an Industry 4.0 ready CNC milling machine, a part marking and inventory system, and interconnected workforce training equipment that includes a CNC mill with an integrated robot tender, a robot with machine vision, a collaborative robot, and additive manufacturing 3D printers will serve as our plant floor production simulation centers. These demonstration stations will be used to solve manufacturers technical challenges such as optimizing efficiency of the plant floor with machine health monitoring; driving data-based decision-making with data collection, analysis, and data visualization; predicting the behavior of physical systems in the manufacturing facility with digital twins; using machine-to-machine communications in the cloud for a SMART connected factory.
These demonstration stations are designed to assist in de-risking or understanding solutions, educating current and future workforce and demonstrating the art of the possible for Smart Manufacturing on the plant floor and in the classroom.