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Industry 4.0 and What It Means for Mining and Foundry

 by General Kinematics,

Technology is advancing in every industry, the way we — and our equipment — operate is always changing. With new advances in technology comes a bigger focus on how it can improve production, reduce downtime and safety hazards, and streamline costs in a variety of applications.

As technology advances and applications in manufacturing and processing become more available (and accurate), many experts believe we are in a new industrial revolution — Industry 4.0.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is much like any other industrial revolution: it changes the way facilities operate, the work people do, and the quality and quantity of production. But unlike other revolutions, Industry 4.0 is less about “physical” changes and more about data and tech. However, Industry 4.0 is about more than just the use of computers to control equipment or work — it’s about how those computers and technologies are connected. With a network of intelligent tech, Industry 4.0 allows computers and networks to communicate and essentially make decisions based on the data they collect.

Think about an operation: the right ratio of sand/metal, levels of bond and moisture are needed. But instead of trying to get the ratio right for each mold, intelligent equipment could anticipate those ratios, provide the right amounts and monitor the process from the initial order to the shipping of the casting.

Industry 4.0 brings a lot of changes, and there’s no way to predict them fully, but there are plenty of potential benefits it may bring.

What does Industry 4.0 mean for mining and foundry operations?

While many may worry about the impacts of Industry 4.0 on jobs and businesses, the benefits of such a technological revolution are clear. While mining operations have reported a steady decline in productivity since 2004, equipment that is more intelligent and more easily monitored can actually speed production and reduce downtime.  

Predictive analytics and “smarter” equipment can also make more complex mining scenarios possible, as operators will be able to detect the limits of their equipment in real-time. Repairs and routine maintenance also become easier — and more affordable — with this level of technology. Across an entire fleet of mining equipment, Industry 4.0 makes higher production and materials reclamation possible. 

In foundry, the benefits are similar: Lower risk of casting damage and higher control over materials, heat, and castings. Smarter equipment also allows for proactive operation, making it easier to determine exactly how much material your foundry needs to operate — including sand, chemicals, and consumables. Less guesswork and variability mean a more consistent product, higher outputs, and more profit.

Of course, this is just touching the surface of what is possible. But to really tap into this potential, we need to talk about the equipment.

How will Industry 4.0 impact equipment?

Naturally, implementing equipment that brings your operation into the “new age” of industry takes time (and money). This means that, for many in the mining and foundry space, the shift will be slow. 

The real opportunity for equipment will be integrating new technology from end-to-end production. Looking at the entire process to see how more intelligent equipment could reduce risk, increase output, and improve profits are all part of the new implementation many will be seeing in the coming years.

And to meet multiple industries in this new Industry 4.0, General Kinematics is constantly innovating and improving our equipment.

Equipment monitoring devices like VERTEX™ will give users a better sense of how their equipment is running, what optimal operation looks like, and how they can improve the way the equipment is being used. Reports from VERTEX™ also provide precise and accurate data, which allows operations managers to make real-time decisions that affect their entire facility.

In future articles, we’ll be talking about automation and cloud monitoring, which are proving to be major trends in Industry 4.0. If you are wondering how your foundry or mining operation can adapt to the coming changes of this Fourth Industrial Revolution, connect with GK today

General Kinematics Corporation, incorporated in 1960, was established to market, design, and custom fabricate innovative vibratory equipment for the foundry, recycling, mining, and processing industries. Today the company continues as one of the world’s largest suppliers of vibratory processing equipment and has evolved into an industry-leading EPC firm. Headquartered in Crystal Lake, IL, General Kinematics has seven global locations providing engineering and support to a world-wide customer base. GK is a third generation, family-owned company and is ISO 9001 certified.