Industry 4.0 or I4.0 refers to the transition that product production and manufacturing are going through worldwide. Computers now communicate with each other and are able to make decisions without the need for human intervention.
In I4.0, cyber systems, the internet of things, and the internet of systems are combined in such a way that access to large amounts of data allows factories to be more efficient and more productive.
Therefore, and according to I4.0, increasing job trends already involve the following roles: supply chain and logistics specialists, risk management specialists, electrotechnology engineers, university and higher education professors, energy and petroleum engineers, robotics engineers and specialists.
New roles will be needed: artificial intelligence and machine learning specialists; general and operations managers; innovation professionals; service and solution designers; robotics specialists and engineers.
Mechanics and machine repairers become redundant, so they need to update and strengthen their knowledge in the areas of leadership, engineering project management, implementation of heuristic methods and data analytics.
The engineers of the future will continue to have a strong background in basic knowledge: physics, chemistry, and mathematics. So that the engineer will be a mediator between science and productive structures.
Engineering in Industry 4.0
Mechanical engineers may be at the forefront of developing new technologies for environmental remediation, agriculture and food production, housing, transportation, safety, health care, and water resources.
The mechanical engineer is expected to develop engineering solutions that promote a cleaner, more sustainable, healthier, and safer world. Mechanical engineers should be highly trained in basic sciences, with the ability to adapt to different socio-cultural environments, focused more on design and operation.
It is imperative that individuals and organizations develop the necessary skills to learn, innovate, adapt and adapt quickly, so the mechanical engineer requires greater technical and management knowledge, as well as creativity in problem-solving.
The main components of Industry 4.0 related to the area of mechanical engineering are the internet of things, data analytics, engineering simulation using virtual and augmented reality, manufacturing, and process optimization for the creation of sustainable systems that reduce energy consumption.
Through the internet of things, a mechanical engineer can obtain data to be used in the optimization of manufacturing processes. Robotics and automation have a place in materials handling. Production-ready prototyping is essential for efficient manufacturing that adapts to a rapidly changing marketplace.
In turn, modeling and simulating scenarios early in the design process helps determine a better design for prototyping. Data analysis can be used to optimize performance at every stage of product development, from design to production, as well as to identify and analyze consumer trends that impact the engineer's work.
Technological innovation in I4.0
In the productive sector, trends are directed towards technological innovation focused on the implementation of systems for the automatic management of processes, through machine learning or programming, as well as its monitoring and control in real-time.
Therefore, the mechanical engineer must be able to use programming languages to implement machine learning techniques, collect information on production systems to perform a predictive analysis under a total quality control scheme, to maintain adequate connectivity in the company to consult the development phase of a project, reduce time and optimize resources.
In other words, Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA) and Statistical Process Control (SPC) continue to be fundamental for the proper performance of industrial processes. As well as the development of robust designs that meet the demands of today's market, and make relevant the implementation of methodologies such as define-measure-analyze-implement-control (DMAIC) for the design or redesign of products at a massive level with efficiency.
Industry 4.0 Trends
Trends in the manufacturing sector are aimed at additive manufacturing and simulation using virtual media, so the mechanical engineer must be familiar with 3D printing and the use of computer-aided drafting (CAD) tools, computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools, and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) tools.
The energy sector trends are aimed at optimizing energy consumption to create sustainable systems, so the mechanical engineer must have the ability to analyze, select and design conventional and alternative energy generation systems, including energy generated through non-renewable and renewable resources such as wind, solar, hydro, thermal and hybrid systems.
Industry 4.0 is strongly driving the constant training of human resources dedicated to manufacturing and production around the world. Universities are constantly developing educational models that allow their graduates to acquire the knowledge, skills, competencies, and values necessary for those who enter the labor market to be able to effectively face the abrupt changes in technological and industrial development. In the same way, different models of continuing education and online platforms have emerged to train engineers in the most current trends.
Sources: Zaira Pineda Rico, Revista Universitarios Potosinos, No.262, UASLP