Less accidents and waste: this is how the new factories are | Digitization | Technology
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It was the year 1999 when the Matrix by the sisters Lana and Lilly Wachowski showed us on the big screen a universe of parallel realities created from a rain of data and controlled from the real world. What seemed like a prophecy has become something tangible and necessary for the competitiveness of companies and, by extension, of world economies.
Although the health crisis has accelerated the digital transformation, according to the latest Survey on the use of ICT and electronic commerce in companies prepared by the INE, there is still a long way to go. Despite the fact that its use increased 10.9 points between 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, the Internet of Things is only used by 27.7% of companies. In the case of artificial intelligence, the figure drops to 8.3%. Singularly low percentages if we take into account that, according to a study carried out by McKinsey, 96% of companies that had adopted some of the Industry 4.0 technologies prior to the pandemic state that they were able to face this contingency with greater guarantees. and that 94% consider that this type of solution facilitates the exercise of their activity.
Efficient and safe processes
“The development and implementation of new technologies (5G, edge computinginternet of things, big dataartificial intelligence, blockchain…) makes it possible to create smart factories in which the production processes are more efficient and safer”, explains Andrés Escribano, director of New Businesses and Industry 4.0 at Telefónica Tech. Likewise, “the incorporation of sensors in the machines to obtain data that help improving the processes and the analysis of this data helps to make better decisions, reduce costs and increase the profitability of companies”.
Artificial intelligence allows robots to carry out the most repetitive tasks while humans dedicate themselves to others with greater added value
Andrés Escribano, Director of New Businesses and Industry 4.0 at Telefónica Tech
Combining tools like 5G, edge computing and artificial intelligence allows, among other things, to develop digital twins or, what is the same, to clone work environments in cyberspace where the physical and virtual worlds come together. With this, companies have a test bench in the cloud without compromising the operation of the production chain. This minimizes the possibility of error, provides flexibility to processes and optimizes decision-making, “increasing the resilience of companies and the way to face the challenges that will challenge humanity during the next two decades” .
Gaining efficiency and improving competitiveness are not the only advantages of Industry 4.0 and smart factories. At a time when climate change has been incorporated as a priority in business strategies, new technological solutions contribute to decarbonising the economy. In addition, a more sustainable social model is promoted by facilitating the adaptation of the factories to the environment in which they are located and in which they can act as a cohesion engine. For example, remote support projects in complex operations reduce travel, which improves efficiency, contributes to sustainability and reduces response time.
Although the internet of things is the first step towards Industry 4.0, since it allows companies access to the big data –the gold of the 21st century–, artificial intelligence is the key technology in smart factories. In addition to reducing errors in repetitive tasks and being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it is a lever for the retraining of workers. “Artificial intelligence enables the intelligent robotization of industries and helps workers stop doing repetitive tasks to focus on others with greater added value,” says Escribano. “The deployment of robots, such as AGVs (automatic guided vehicles) or drones, generate innovative solutions for predictive maintenance, surveillance and inspection in factories, shortening execution times and reducing risks for humans”, underlines this specialist.
To all of the above must be added the new business opportunities opened up by the incorporation of new technologies in the industrial sector. For example, 5G makes it possible to connect high-performance machinery and production systems, facilitating the use of advanced robotics and augmented, virtual and hybrid reality, as it offers the speed necessary to transmit all data with little latency or congestion.
Advancing in Industry 4.0 will contribute to economic growth and improve the welfare state. According to the CEOE Digitization Plan 2025, if Spain climbed four places -from 11 to 7- in the DESI index (Digital Economy and Society Index) prepared by the European Commission, the GDP would rise 3.2% above the current forecasts. In addition, the real growth rate of the Spanish economy would rise by 40% and some 250,000 additional net jobs would be created.
METEO and cybersecurity
Cyber attacks cost companies around the world 6,000 billion euros every year according to the IE Business School. Spain occupies the third position in the list of daily cyberattacks. To combat this, Telefonica Tech has developed METEO, a methodology that addresses the challenge of cybersecurity from processes, people and technology itself. “Cybersecurity in smart factories has to protect both the new assets, networks and services that are being defined, as well as all the elements of the legacy environment”, explains Vicente Segura, head of OT security at Telefónica Tech. Thus, METEO It develops in four phases: evaluation of the company’s security profile; design of a master plan; implementation of solutions and their deployment and management.