The Ivenza Blog

Industry 4.0: how a customer controls the vertical chain

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Industry 4.0: how a customer controls the vertical chain

Source: DFKI 2011

Industry 4.0 is an initiative of the German government to encourage and foster the 4th Industrial Revolution for traditional industries such as manufacturing. The goal is a comprehensive integration of production processes between different companies in the vertical chain. This is done by machines and computers communicating with each other at operational and tactical levels. By providing more data and make data available faster in the complete chain, manufacturing processes can be executed much more intelligent. Industry 4.0 ensures that customers are increasingly getting direct influence on the product and the its manufacturing process. In the Netherlands we have a nice real-world 4.0 example that is exposed in this blog.

The German model of industrial policy is an excellent plan focused on the future and is both strategic and generic in nature. Unlike Germany, the Netherlands is not known at this time as an industrial country. Yet that image is distorted. There are Dutch manufacturing companies that are doing well by creating extra value on fields like design/DutchDesign, good man-to-machine ratio's, additional logistics services, variable lead times etc.. An example of such a company in the manufacturing industry is Nijpels Furniture. In a traditional market, they are able to make mass furniture profitable for retailers in Western Europe with the help of dozens of robots.

Industry 4.0 SmartFactory Solution in the Netherlands

An interesting example of a high degree of integration of production and business processes between different actors in the chain, is the Smart-factory solution Ivenza deployed at DIY chains. Ivenza enables consumers and Home improvement-retailers in Western and Northern Europe to create and configurate storage-, cabinetry and sliding systems with iSlide. The consumer determines the shape, size and functionality of its product in a web based 3D environment. Every order is unique and is at the same time both prototype and final product.

High speed internet connections between systems and machines

To achieve this, a central Ivenza system is available in a data center in Amsterdam. All connected DIY-chains and consumers connect through the Internet with the design and ordering system. In a data center, located 20 km away in Haarlem, the ERP system is operated that continuously communicates with Ivenza for the exchange of lotsize 1 order, inventory and production data. A warehouse management system, provides Ivenza with a daily update of loading schemes of trucks that distribute the products to Home improvement retailers on a daily basis throughout Western Europe. With this loading-layout of trucks, Ivenza can control and stear the production process resulting in the manufacturing of the right order just-in-time in the right sequence for each lorry.

Remote control of production

Production based on lot size 1 means that Ivenza is connected through the internet to all automated manufacturing machines on the shop floor. This applies to beam saws, drilling machines, CNC machines and on-demand packaging equipment. Each production process on each machine is unique and is calculated, controlled by and monitored from Ivenza. This ensures that all operations on all parts are carried out before the order leaves the factory. Lotsize 1 or mass customization demands this degree of control. But the chain integration goes even further because Ivenza, in the case of outsourcing contracts, defines exact operations e.g. for cutting and drilling and sends these specifications to the oursource contractor. The availability of this digital information results in more efficient outsource process and a great reduction of errors and fail costs.