Industry 4.0 Operational Excellence and Safety | Best Practices for Conformal Nanocoating
Mallory McGuinness | December 15, 2020
Electronic developments have been spearheading the automation of manufacturing processes since the early 1970s. But recent advancements in information technology (IT) and electronic capabilities are yielding lower costs, greater efficiency, and new revenue and business models for manufacturing. This disruptive convergence of IT advances, and operational functionality is known as Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution.
Given the benefits, it should come as no surprise that the Industry 4.0 market is booming, with an estimated value of $71.7 billion. This is expected to skyrocket to $156.6 billion by 2024, with a CAGR of 16.95% from 2019 to 2024.
The Internet of Things (IoT) segment is the largest contributor to Industry 4.0’s market growth. These connected components fulfill critical roles, such as connecting industrial equipment and gathering sensor data that manufacturers can use to optimize machine performance, perform predictive maintenance, and remotely monitor enterprise assets.
Electronics complete tasks so critical that component failure may result in heavy financial losses, liability, and downtime for manufacturers. Therefore, the challenge for Industry 4.0 is that connected components remain vulnerable to commonplace operational environmental threats, such as oil, pollutants, liquids, corrosives, and contaminants, that can put reliable operation – and businesses – in jeopardy.
Industry 4.0 Use Cases
Industry 4.0 can make everything in a supply chain “smart” – from factories, manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics. With the integration of back-end systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), Industry 4.0 offers businesses unprecedented control and visibility.
Companies from various verticals ranging from automobile to defense to heavy engineering can benefit from digital automation technologies that propel their business goals.
Use cases include:
- Asset management and tracking: It is now possible to prevent overstocking or understocking inventory by implementing shelf-fitted sensors and weighing devices that broadcast inventory data to the warehouse management system.
- Big Data and Analytics: Manufacturers can embed sensors into factory equipment to collect data about their cycle time and condition. Data analytics tools process real-time data and alert workers when any bottlenecks in production operations have been identified.
- Digital Twins: An Internet of Industrial Things (IIoT) device can send data in almost real-time. Meanwhile, a digital twin (a digital representation of a real-world process or system) can collect data continuously. The digital twin is used to predict potential issues, allowing preemptive measures to be taken.
Industry 4.0 Components
Many electronic components drive the Industry 4.0 infrastructure. Here are just a few examples:
- Computer Control: Responsible for controlling machinery, these computers are becoming more miniaturized and portable.
- Smart Sensors: These components are used to monitor many parameters, with many different types of sensors required in the same equipment piece. The data collected is often processed concurrently.
- Interconnectivity devices: These networking devices include managed and unmanaged switches, gateways, routers, and segment repeaters, which need to remain operational for constant connectivity.
What Could Go Wrong When Tech Meets Threats?
As control computers become smaller than before, seals and gaskets traditionally used for electronic protection against operating environments may be too bulky. Additionally, as these computers are subjected to factory conditions such as liquid and corrosive exposure, they need ruggedization. Without reliable protection, they could fail, and the machinery they are controlling could stop functioning.
Smart sensors need to continually provide data despite threats such as contaminants and oil as they continue the path towards miniaturization and integration. More sensing is required at every step of the manufacturing process. The entire factory output depends on data accuracy from the front-end sensor systems, so these systems need to be reliable and precise, despite the sensitive circuitry inside. If one connected component fails, it could lead to data loss or inaccuracy.
Interconnectivity components need to be more reliable than ever before, as the Industry 4.0 system’s success hinges upon continual connectivity. Ruggedness and reliability demands must be met, or significant downtime and loss of assets could occur.
Interconnectivity components need to be more reliable than ever before, as the Industry 4.0 system’s success hinges upon continual connectivity.
HZO: The Industry 4.0 Reliability Solution
As the stakes become higher, components become smaller, and the need for ruggedization increases, lightweight, reliable protection becomes a necessity. That’s where HZO thin-film coating solutions (such as Parylene conformal coating) and protective nanocoatings come in. These solutions from our Spectrum of Protection™, a suite of chemical compositions used to build tailored coating solutions to align with your business objectives, providing protection capabilities that will maintain no matter how harsh your operating environment is. Our coatings also augment your components with alternative features, such as beneficial thermal and electrical properties, including low dielectric constants and high dielectric strength. Whether your Industry 4.0 devices need protection from gas, pollutants, contaminants, or corrosives, we’ve got you covered when it comes to coatings. Reach out today to find out more.
Whether your Industry 4.0 devices need protection from gas, pollutants, contaminants, or corrosives, we’ve got you covered when it comes to coatings.
Ryan is a 9-year veteran to the world of protecting electronics from harsh environments and a lover of all things technology.