Since the factory of the future ought to be connected with its clients, we fit perfectly in this schema.
Industry 4.0 - Interview with fabb.one Ltd
Contributed by | fabb.one
Are you familiar with the term Industry 4.0 and if so what does it mean to you and your company?
Industry 4.0 (I4.0) is the 4th industrial revolution as we know it today or let’s better say it like this: industry 4.0 is where the industry sees the next consequential step when bringing IT and production together. As a matter of fact, it is far behind expectations, yet, and businesses are preparing for upcoming challenges and chances but ask for proper implementation tools and the most relevant factor: awareness and noticeable pulses from the market.
However, when we look at our product, fabb.one, we see ourselves right at this bottleneck. fabb.one is an online tender platform for additive manufacturing respectively 3D printing. This industry sector is estimated with global turnovers of up to 10bn in the year 2016. So, we are facing a segment in production that implies I4.0 aspects: connecting on-demand production with the already completely digital product design process. Next to all of the technical benefits of 3D printing, this technology is predictable, adaptable to quick availability and scaleable to large series production.
Bridging professional 3D printing with high quality and industrial standards is most relevant in order to bring confidence to the clients and end customers. Additive manufacturing brings the on-demand readiness and diversity in production to the market. But when we take a look onto available networking spaces, we see a sole focus on getting the lowest price out of the market, targeting semi professionals and consumers. With our platform fabb.one we want to enable the customer to make educated decisions based on industry proven criteria and make market demands transparent and recognizable to both, clients and factories, or let’s say fabbs.
How is your company set to benefit from the buzz about the factory of the future?
Since the factory of the future ought to be connected with its clients, we fit perfectly in this schema. Our product is the service to connect fabbs with clients on well-known industry processes as procurers know it from other fields, but which hasn’t been applied to 3D printing, yet. Clients can put their production inquiries on our platform and define deadlines for bid proposals, delivery times and technologies. This enables fabbs to search for contracts, instead of waiting for them.
Without customers, there is no need for production. So, strong marketplaces with focus on the industry are required: Enabling a string to get in contact with each other and benefit from demands and highly skilled companies with the ability to manufacture quickly and highly qualitative products is what can help to contribute I4.0 manufacturing.
Our team consists of engineers, IT specialists and designers bringing lots of experience from such applications. We know the demand on both sides and use these fields expertise to introduce and develop a powerful tool for the challenges arising of the integrity in production processes.
What applications of the Internet of Things (IoT) are you or do you plan to implement in the near future?
As fabb.one is constituted as an online platform for production inquiries and the companies that run 3D printers, the enabling of transparent production parametry with times and scale, production orders shall be better planable responsive to the demand of the client. In the sense of IoT fabb.one will provide APIs which will enable customers and fabbs to automate their processes and thus automate the production process across client and fabbs. We will introduce the automated bid process known from stock exchanges into the manufacturing space.
How do you interpret the term “Connected Manufacturing”?
Clients with demands for production derive either from companies, whether it is RnD, rapid prototyping, post-processing of semi-finished parts or simple reselling, medical, aerospace, logistics, energy, universities or research institutes. Potential clients with designated contracts want to protect their intellectual property. NDAs are signed between them and the manufacturing party. To accelerate such process, we developed a tool that helps to exchange an optical mock-up, so details of the CAD model are reduced in the pre-bidding phase. We allow fabbs to bring in their expertise for negotiate the material and production options in the first round. As a result, the project itself can process quicker whereas a longer period of negotiations, cause shifts in production planning.
Our goal is to simplify the procurement and phase of technical and administrative clarification for both sides. Through this time and cost shall be reduced impacting the dependency chain between machines and their data input. So, “connected manufacturing” is linking the machines with the engineers, contract management and the client. Enabling interaction on an online platform that fulfills industrial demands with regards to quality, transparency and intellectual protection is in our eyes “connected manufacturing” describing quite well what fabb.one does.
Do you think Industry 4.0 will bring more (but different) jobs to the industry or will it result in a large loss of employment?
Industry 4.0 is not there yet. It’s on its way, on a good way. This process requires time and efforts in transforming complete production infrastructures. This won’t happen over night. Everyone who will be working in such companies needs to be prepared and implemented to a networking grid embracing the whole value chain from material sourcing and supply, to contract management, engineering, production, logistics, quality control and so forth. It’s people doing these things in the end, since machines still need maintenance, CAD designs are generated from ideas and mind maps, sourcing and supplying material, manual finishing of products, where machines are simply not used, will remain. New Business models will develop and allow new jobs. With all goes one thing: enhancing skills and expertise. Because only this will make industry 4.0 happening and keeping it alive once fully implemented. Yes, we believe, I4.0 will bring more and different jobs to the industry.
How about scenarios to convince the general public that Industry 4.0 is a good thing for their future?
I4.0 will carry a resource-friendly production, an important argument for 3D printing. This step in the industrial revolution can compensate production demands with quick, flexible and adapted answers from factories with good arguments in quality and transparency to be more attractive than competitors. Clients also want to be part of this revolution and need adequate and substantial partners on their side. “Black Boxes” are necessary to be opened, which allows the shaping of the end product to fit the customer requirements at its best. If this networking between order management, on-demand production and best-fit in the later use of the product succeeds, I4.0 will be of benefit for the general public. For us, a step in this direction is the implementation and use of fabb.one.
About fabb.one Ltd
fabb.one Ltd. is a start-up company in the technology sector for additive manufacturing. We are a team of German engineers, computer scientists and designers with over 10 years experience in 3D printing and other production technologies. fabb.one is headquartered in Birmingham (UK) with the operational branch in Cologne (GER).
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow
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