General Industries

Industry 4.0 and the human factor

June 22, 2021

The rise of automation and the adoption of Industry 4.0 ‘intelligent’ tools is helping us produce more bespoke solutions to customer requirements, particularly in high-tech sectors like the automotive and aerospace industries.

Ford’s apocryphal selling slogan that ‘you can have any color as long as it’s black’ has long been consigned to history. Now, even the most basic car brand offers a wide selection of colors and features which make every order unique. This level of customization raises new challenges around the role of humans in the production process, particularly around skills development and error reduction.

In the past, an assembly worker was valued because they could perform the same task competently on the same line day after day. In today’s more flexible manufacturing environment that same worker may be required to rivet body panels one shift and wire up a lighting system on the next. Traditional training in all these skills takes time – and the pace of technological change can render such learning obsolete very quickly.

So how can we ensure that modern assembly workers feel valued and competent, and can access the information they need to complete diverse tasks efficiently and without error?

Desoutter’s answer is PivotWare, a comprehensive process control platform that guides operators through a specific set of assembly tasks as part of an automated process. A graphic and textual display shows them exactly what tools to use, what components to apply, and where to fix them. The system verifies that each step has been completed correctly before allowing the operator to move to the next stage.

The platform is programmable by the customer using software tools provided, so responsiveness to changes in production requirements is unhampered by any need for specialist intervention.

As automation continues to create new roles and new challenges, intuitive human-machine interfaces like PivotWare will become increasingly important. Not only does this platform deliver improved quality, reduced rework, and increased volume production in automated environments, it also supports validation and traceability requirements.

Following a controlled launch in the US and China, PivotWare is now available globally.