The world of manufacturing is making a quantum leap with robots, self-organizing production, virtual reality, automation, and self-diagnosis by the machines. At the heart of this change is data. It is the data from all these machines that drive outcomes like mass customization, minimized errors, and better customer satisfaction. In other words, the machines are becoming smart and the factories are becoming smart factories.
Smart factories is the term used to refer to a highly digitized shop floor that continuously collects and shares data through connected machines, devices, and production systems. As welding is an integral part of the manufacturing sector, it is also undergoing a positive change with new technologies and processes.
Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), welding is a high-tech process that is as sensitive to the influence of processors, control systems, and software as it is to welding torches, electrodes, or shielding gas. Industry 4.0 and IoT will not only impact and improve the manual welding processes but also the robotic and automated welding processes.
Also, it is important to note that this change is not just for large manufacturing units or companies but also for small and medium-sized enterprises.
New technologies, tools, and equipment call for highly skilled and tech-savvy employees to work with smart systems. This not only requires new skilling but also reskilling and upskilling of the existing workforce. The welding industry will need an increasing number of skilled workforces, who are agile, adaptable, and have knowledge beyond the fundamentals of welding.
Please note: This is an overview article. The information presented to you here is taken from various articles and interviews published on NSN in association with Fronius India and facilitated by them.
Let’s understand welding skills in the times of Industry 4.0 –
Technological advancements and the internet have brought a new era of communication in the industries. Today, machine-to-machine, machine-to-enterprise, machine-to-man are all connected in a web of communication. This is where the importance of Big Data lies.
These changes around the world and in the field of manufacturing are bound to bring in the much-needed revolution in the way the industries work. This also calls for the need for the highly skilled workforce who are well aware of new-age technologies like automation, the Internet of Things, Big Data, robotics, digitalization, etc.
Also read: Industry 4.0 and welding technologies – https://nationalskillsnetwork.in/industry-4-0-and-welding-technologies/
So how is Big Data becoming an integral part of welding processes?
Through Big Data and data documentation in welding, we will be able to find data from any source and analyze it. Welding data documentation combined with comprehensive analysis opportunities is a decisive factor when it comes to a good production process.
Today, no welding process or welding technology can be viewed in isolation from the other. Collecting the data, processing, and analyzing it helps the end-users detect the imperfections and errors in the processes from various units of production. This will help the companies make their machines, systems, and even their entire production lines more powerful and efficient.
Some of the ways in which Big Data can improve the welding processes are:
- Creates transparency
- Optimizes the processes
- Manages quality
- Efficient transfer of data
- Product improvements
Unlike the common misconception that the buzz words like Big Data, Industry 4.0, etc., are not only about large industries. These are equally important to small and medium scale enterprises.
Manufacturers of all sizes need tools and systems to measure the performance of production processes to ensure that they are delivering quality parts.
Along with this, by digitizing and monitoring weld data, one can identify the errors, get an entire picture of the production process, streamline the welding processes, and therefore make the overall production process efficient.
Apart from the above, some of the other advantages of leveraging Big Data for small and medium-sized enterprises are:
- Real-time information on processes
- Availability of accurate data to the employees
- Saves time and money
- Reduction in rework and errors
- Helps in identifying the bottlenecks
Weld monitoring systems and digital connectivity offer the competitive advantage of minimizing rework and rejections to small and medium-sized shops and thereby keeping customers happy.
With so many advantages of adopting the new technologies comes the challenge of finding the right people. The skill requirements also evolved over the years along with the new-age technologies. Though Industry 4.0 is going to have a significant impact on various job roles in this domain, it will not take away the jobs of welders. With the right reskilling, upskilling, and with adequate knowledge of the latest technologies like automation and robotics, one is bound to move high up the ladder in the manufacturing sector. This will make welders more employable in a competitive and high-demand industry.