How does condition monitoring enable efficient manufacturing and sustainability in the cyber age? Modern manufacturing has recently moved into what can be seen as its fourth generation. The Industrial Revolution of the late 18th century began the world of manufacturing as we now know it; little had changed after the introduction of electrical power and production line techniques in the 1960s, with manual labour producing most output. It was only with the introduction of computer systems that there was a greater change in production technologies. This led us to where we are now and will be in the foreseeable future, with cyber systems and the Internet of Things at the heart of production and manufacturing techniques.Having machines to carry out production work not only leads to more efficient manufacturing (they don’t go out on strike, for one thing), but has enabled far greater control over condition monitoring, allowing machines to gather their own data from different sites and send it to a central analysis hub.
While this is good news for condition monitoring engineers, it affords producers the luxury of being able to leave production to machines and concentrate on the future. And the future of efficient manufacturing is now closely linked to a concentration on sustainability, recycling of resources and new uses for old materials.
The maximum use we can get from materials, and the more times they can be recycled or re-used, will naturally lead to greater efficiency. A concentration on getting the most out of resources naturally leads to the longer life of the machinery involved in its output. Being aware of the possible environmental effect of processes, which may not be felt for decades, is also essential in constant improvement.
A greater amount of time is now available for experimentation and creative thinking in manufacturing techniques. We have a greater opportunity than ever to apply ourselves to experiments that may or may not work, but failure is all part of the process. Condition monitoring is becoming more refined, moving forwards through increased efficiency along with the rest of the mechanised world. It is this increased efficiency that prolongs the life of machines and their ability to work harmoniously with each other.