Manufacturing is moving beyond the integration of automation and robotics. Now, smart factories feature high-tech sensors, software, cloud-based data storage and analytics to combine manufacturing operational technology with information technology.
Imagine: Thousands of robots all over the world from hundreds of companies uploading production data in real-time while software analyzes this data to predict future behaviors, like when a part is going to fail on a robot. Meanwhile, this data is sent back to the robot who orders its own replacement part before breakdown ever occurs and technicians are notified via smart device of the upcoming need for service.
But this is just one small example of the world of Industry 4.0 and cyber-physical systems. In reality, the technology, manufacturing systems, hardware, software and data analysis processes that underlie it are infinitely complex (and evolving).
Educators are met with the challenge of systematically introducing students to these technologies so they can be prepared to successfully enter the advanced manufacturing workforce.
Because of the complexities of Industry 4.0 technology and processes, a logical teaching method is defined by progressive “building blocks.” Each of these should be incorporated at every learning level, from K-12 through technical college and university, with the associated certifications and hard skills in mind.
The building block method introduces basic manufacturing and operational skills and processes, like safety and lean, then builds to industrial technologies like fluid power, mechanical drives, industrial robotics, welding, etc. Only after this foundation is built can students begin to learn about smart sensors and connected devices, networking and data analytics.
This white paper outlines the six building blocks of Industry 4.0 and how to incorporate them into each level of education.
It has become the cornerstone for a movement in Southeastern Wisconsin to teach Industry 4.0, a region that is truly leading the country in this space.
With the prevalence of manufacturing in Michigan, it is a clear step for educators to adopt this educational model into their programs to prepare students for successful career pathways.
A model has already been developed to teach these building blocks, and it is flexible enough to fit into existing programs. The Industry 4.0 Fundamentals program was developed for high schools and technical colleges looking to be on the forefront of Industry 4.0 education. To learn more about this program, click here.