Industry 4.0 — Redefining Quality Control

Industry 4.0 can be termed as a  new period in the context of the great industrial revolutions witnessing the growth of smart factories. These smart factories will change the way the products will be manufactured that  will surely impact several market sectors.This in turn would also transform the Quality Control(QC) process. Infact, the term Intelligent Quality Control System is already buzzing in the market and is poised to grow significantly.

The concept of Intelligent Quality Control Systems(IQCS) or Smart quality control systems (SQCS) came into existence after the introduction of Smart Manufacturing production. Here,quality control  is driven by the infusion of Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), Robotics and intensity of Human-to-Machine (H2M) interactions.

The quality control in these smart factories  would highly benefit from  transformation on account of the gradual significant spread of sensor technology.This technology enables the quality engineers to gather as much measurement data as possible, opening the possibility to detect defects that otherwise would be undetected. This would open the doors to the possibility to record 100% of measured data.

Extensive  progress in Internet of Things (IoT) and Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) are quickly making industry 4.0 a reality. As per market studies,this would possibly have a deep effect on every angle of the manufacturing industry, from logistics to quality control. The measurement for the quality control no longer will be made in a distinct metrology section, but outright on the production line. Smart sensors might be able to register and transmit the recorded data. However, the methods utilized on how to use this is a considerable challenge and it should lead engineers to make the correct decisions. For the industry to work smoothly there is a need of a comprehensive analysis of the effect of Industry 4.0 on quality control. It is imperative to have an uninterrupted circulation of information from WSNs (Wireless Sensor Network) to the decision makers and backwards is the foundation of Industry 4.0. 

Undoubtedly, The  fourth generation industrial revolution has  challenged the way business leaders execute their operations. This has made the leaders rethink outdated processes and embrace new upgrades creates a better work environment and improves safety,Though the beneficial effects will not occur instantly but the impact of intelligent networking with industry 4.0 truly does offer near-immediate benefits for quality control.Considering the ever changing  and competitive scenario it is imperative for the organisations to leverage innovative technologies to address quality issues. 

Every industry claims  to offer high-quality service, the highest-quality products, and rise above the competition. Achieving those goals needs meticulous planning and investments. The organizations in manufacturing and R&D have numerous factors to consider and large teams to manage. There is bound to be human error and to address these challenges and have a greater consistency with quality, it’s important to collaborate with technology. Restorative action for failed quality can be time-consuming and expensive. Thus , it becomes necessary to  install  more systems in place to avoid these setbacks, creating  a win-win situation for everyone. The right technology investments can help curb costs and gain profits.

Looking at the traditional Quality model,it has been focused on compliance, which has contributed to the implementation of fragmented, non-harmonized processes. This, in turn, affects  the organization’s strategic goals and objectives. This makes Quality an important aspect of any industry and it also becomes a  cost center, and often an expensive cost center. As per market experts,by implementing  and participating in the technologies, data, and other elements of Industry 4.0, manufacturers can potentially reduce their total Cost of Quality (which includes the cost of good quality and the cost of poor quality) by 22-50%. These technologies are capable of communicating both with the products (Smart products) and their environments. They are capable of detecting any slight defects and delays that could hamper manufacturing processes, and then communicate the same, using fitted sensors. These gadgets work autonomously to create seamless communication between themselves. For example,installed sensors and AI techniques assist in the design and implementation of an automatic machine model that predicts machine health status, which in turn can diagnoses any quality defects that could result from the machining failures. This promotes a cost-effective solution in monitoring the production process to improve the quality of the products based on Industry 4.0 technologies.

Therefore, QC in Smart Manufacturing or Industry 4.0 revolution seem to take a different route as Industry 4.0 revolution is envisaged to leverage on a holistic automation, business information, and manufacturing execution architecture to improve industry with integration of all aspects of production and commerce across company boundaries for greater efficiency.Quality needs to demonstrate how incorporating Quality into the organization’s Industry 4.0 planning, and making the Quality 4.0 investments  will result in increased flexibility, improved product quality, and reduced time to market. Most importantly, they should share how these investments will aid in meeting customer requirements by providing them with safe, effective products that improve the quality of their lives.

Industry 4.0 will surely have a major impact on Regulatory and Quality compliance. Indeed, there is a need for Quality leaders to  harmonize, utilize, and share quality reports and analytics. Massive amounts of data will be available to Quality force in real time, and from multiple sources at the same time. That data must be used to enable quick, situational decision making. Intelligent Quality Control is going to be a rapid-paced, self-directing environment. For Quality Management Systems and professionals to stand out and contribute to bottom-line benefits to the organisation, quality processes and data need to be an embedded, integral part of the system. 

With Smart manufacturing processes being implemented in industry 4.0, will witness Smart Products, Smart Processes, and Smart Machines, which can be self-directing and self-adjusting, Quality will determine the adjustments  to be made and yet remain compliant with the organization’s Quality policy. Quality will need to determine how to record that the changes occurred within those acceptable parameters. Quality Management will need to be integrated into core processes so that all departments are participating in, and responsible for, overall quality. Global Enterprise Quality Management Systems that are fully integrated into the Industry 4.0 system of the organization will be critical. Industry 4.0 processes will become much more collaborative, interactive, and responsive. Finally, Quality departments of industry 4.0 need to implement data and technology and use them to drive innovation while improving overall quality. Technology driven industry can help Quality Management’s ability to monitor products and processes to prevent complexities and downtime before they occur. Data inputs from multiple sources will improve product performance and provide impetus to product innovation by providing engineering and development with continuous feedback and insights.

With the  rise of  industry 4.0, quality control is set to reach a whole new level. The new solutions will  assist organisations and enhance their current process. Allowing automative technologies to support these efforts offers unprecedented easiness to identify quality control issues and keep production on track. Post-pandemic some companies opted for sensor technology to receive crucial updates on robots and other machines working the production line. But there is always room for improvement  so organization always have a better connectivity to consider. The latest devices improve real-time communication across all  physical locations that enables workers to manage any unplanned stoppages more efficiently. What’s more, these tools provide leaders with data analytics for  making  well-informed decisions on where and how to improve their site’s quality and performance. The challenges for any organisation are – to stay competitive and maintain the budget.Thus, reduction in the  cost of quality enables the leaders to put their energy towards their company and team advancements. The ideal software solution will monitor conditions in real-time,providing  key insights on how your procedures are followed and workers are supported. All of these measures serve higher quality standards too.As technology ceaselessly works for the simplification and improvement of our day-to-day lives, Especially, the manufacturing and R&D worlds are uniquely positioned to reap its benefits. As per market studies, the manufacturing industry is expected to have the highest impact with digital technology at 47 percent, with R&D close behind at 41 percent. Though, every worksite is different,yet the opportunities can’t be ignored.

In the long run, investments in quality control measures can protect the reputation of a company, prevent products from being unreliable, and increase trust on the side of consumers. These processes are determined through rigorous methodology and testing, as well as industry standards and best practices. 

Moreover, quality control is necessary because it ensures that a company will look at evidence-based data and research to ensure that products are living up to their standard. One essential aspect of quality control is that the process undergo a routine evaluation of the product to ensure that it’s continuously meeting both the manufacturing standards and consumer demand. For instance,in food and drug manufacturing, quality control prevents products that make customers sick, and in manufacturing, quality control can ensure safety and help prevent  accidents when people use a product.In food production quality control would be  overseeing the ingredient specifications, reviewing supplier lists, and ensuring the facility where the food product is made is sanitary.

Conclusion :

As they say, quality is a never ending process. Increase in quality increases production,decreases cost and increases profits. Thus quality control and inspection forms an integral part of a company’s management.quality is  a result  of intelligent efforts.Quality includes people, process and environment, meeting customers needs and preferences.No consumer wants to risk using a product that could endanger them or fail expectations. A company’s reputation, reliability, and efficiency are all at risk if quality control is overlooked. A product’s testing plays a major role  in marketing and sales since consumers may trust it more.

In contrast to the earlier Industrial revolutions, Industry 4.0 revolution or Smart Manufacturing has completely revolutionised the QCS in manufacturing processes. Traditional QC systems have now given birth to Smart Quality Control Systems (SQCS) or Intelligent Quality Control Systems (IQCS), where machines have taken over most of the roles performed by humans in the manufacturing. Technological development has made production/manufacturing processes to be more complex and complicated, yet simple in terms of networked processes created by the application of Cyber-Physical Systems, Additive Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligent, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality.

A few of the technologies that will play a major role in Industry 4.0 are- Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Big Data Analytics. However, Industry 4.0 goes well beyond these technologies. Data volumes have multiplied tremendously because of technological advances. Improved computational power, improved connectivity and  new powerful wide area networks have all contributed to this vast rise in data volumes. The list of technologies that are contributing to Industry 4.0 and intelligent quality control are rapidly expanding.

Smart Manufacturing or Industry 4.0 revolution revolves around the concept of self-control.Managing production processes requires open software and communications standards that allow sensors, controllers, people, machines, equipment, logistics systems, and products to communicate and cooperate with each other directly. Though it would minimize human intervention, still industry would need to train the workforce as quality inspectors to fit in the new it their workforce with the new workplace requirements, such as new tools and technologies. This will ascertain that gaps in skills and knowledge created by the Smart Manufacturing technologies do not have serious impacts on the human workforce work life. Therefore, the implementation of Smart Quality Control Systems (SQCS) or Intelligent Quality Control Systems (IQCS) in Industry 4.0 demands upgradation in employee skills and competencies, such as ICT know-how, interdisciplinary competencies and special personality traits as Human-to-Machine (H2M) collaboration would be  necessary as some production tasks are too unstructured to be fully automatised.

How Intelligent Quality Control Systems Would Benefit Industry 4.0 ?

IQCS brings with it several benefits to those organisations that will be able to adaptIQCS brings with it several benefits to those organisations that will be able to adapt the new technologies in Smart Manufacturing processes compared to traditional quality control has been part of the manufacturing processes in the previous three industrial revolutions. Here are some of the benefits of IQCS as Smart Manufacturing.

  1. Increased customisation to satisfy individual consumer demands.This would mean products may not need to be produced in bulk as before, because the manufacturers will be able to produce very small series. This technology provides fast configuration of machines and production process, as well as their adaptation to customer requirements.

2. Higher flexibility with faster and more multifaceted production processes that would enable production of goods in smaller volumes with high quality in a cost-effective way.

3. Increased resource efficiency by using more efficient and closed loops, regenerative, and restorative physical and economic cycles, where products and raw materials retain their physical characteristics and value as much as possible.

  1. This will help in lowering production costs, low logistic costs, and quality management costs.It will promote more efficient use of natural resources and energy, and a more friendlier working environment.