Steel Times International September 2016

Page 21



The fourth industrial revolution Yandex Data Factory’s Alexander Khyatin*, argues the case for machine learning’s place in the fourth industrial revolution and presents the challenges that lie ahead if manufacturers fail to get on board. WITH the advent of Industry 4.0, significant change is set to disrupt the factory floor. While change can be daunting for manufacturers, it should not equate to revenue loss. With the surge of big data brought about by the industrial ‘internet of things’ (IoT), the pressure is on for manufacturers to find ways of extracting business value from their data and possess the right tools to keep up with manufacturing innovation. While the challenges ahead are tough, applying advanced technologies like machine learning will see manufacturers stay ahead of the competition and see a return on their investments. Why is Industry 4.0 happening? The fourth industrial revolution is the result of a combination of factors, which together are about to change the way manufacturing operates. First, data collection and storage has evolved significantly in recent years thanks to advances in technology. With the advent of industrial IoT, manufacturers now have the tools to collect masses of data on the factory floor through sensors, telemetry and connected devices.

Second, the advances in technology are echoed in the increased availability of computing power, necessary for advanced data analysis, including machine learning and neural networks. This enables data processing on a mass scale – something that just several years ago was impossible and impractical for businesses due to cost limitations. Third, the success of these advanced technologies has already been demonstrated in other online sectors. As advanced data analysis defines user experience on e-commerce sites, car navigation, internet search, and so on, offline industries, such as manufacturing, are beginning to see how success might be reaped from their data. Towards optimisation On a practical level, Industry 4.0 very much resembles the previous revolution in that it is driven by automation. The radical transformation of the production process brought about by Industry 4.0 will allow for additional efficiencies and flexibility through the automation of decision-making. Intuition, expert opinions and specifications

based on statistics and theoretical modelling are all to be partially replaced with automatic real-time decision-making, based on the advanced analysis of real data coming directly from the factory floor. Making use of data to see tangible and valuable results is where manufacturers have come to fail in the past. Naturally, data collection is the first step towards data analysis. However, manufacturers make the mistake of over-focusing on collection and neglecting analysis. Many attempt to extract value from their ever-growing data using data analysis techniques from previous generations, which lack the benefits that machine learning could provide. This outdated approach proves less than fit for purpose and fails to maximise results. While many manufacturers have, in fact, begun to recognise their big data failures, they sadly do not possess the tools necessary to overcome all of the obstacles they encounter. Applying advanced technologies, such as machine learning algorithms, specifically developed to work with such massive datasets, manufacturers will definitely see a return on their investment.

* Chief operating officer, Yandex Data Factory

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September 2016

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