Have you noticed how time seems to have shifted since the internet connected us to each other?
Today, we expect immediacy in all our interactions. We no longer have the patience to wait three days for mail, an hour for a fax, or even 10 minutes for an email. When we send a text, we want a response in seconds—and we feel frustrated by interaction that seems to take longer than it should.
The pace of human life is accelerating, and contract manufacturing companies need to keep up to stay relevant and competitive. Speed matters—customers demand and deserve their parts faster than ever before.
At Reata Engineering, we’re always looking for opportunities to streamline our services while maintaining the high level of quality expected of us. Industry 4.0 provides the pathway forward and empowers us to deliver a seamless, real-time experience for our customers.
What Is Industry 4.0?
In simplest terms, Industry 4.0 is the fourth era of modern industrialization and embraces the digitization of the manufacturing industry.
The first era introduced water and steam-powered machines during the Industrial Revolution. Mass production and assembly lines were prominent elements of the second era (think of Henry Ford’s conveyor belts). In the third era, computers became cornerstones of our industry.
Now, Industry 4.0 takes manufacturing technology to the next level, ushering in the Internet of Things (IoT) and the digitization of machines and equipment, such as mills, lathes, and tooling bins.
How Reata Engineering Has Embraced Industry 4.0
We’ve embraced Industry 4.0 principles and welcome any opportunity to digitize and automate processes to increase efficiency.
We leverage the latest technological solutions in three key areas:
1. IoT equipment
In addition to installing cutting-edge precision machining equipment on the shop floor, we’ve also incorporated machine metrics to help us track and measure our productivity.
We leverage MT Connect—an open standard that allows for real-time data sharing between machines on the shop floor and computer systems. Since our machines are “online,” we can benchmark our efficiency against other organizations and make improvements to optimize our operations accordingly.
Additionally, our equipment self-monitors its suppliers and inventory. For example, our tool bins are completely automatic; they are monitored and refilled immediately when necessary.
2. Digital quoting
We’ve streamlined the quoting process by implementing Paperless Parts digital quoting software.
This ITAR-registered software provides a frictionless customer experience with many innovative features. Customers can easily share quotes with their team, preview parts in 3D, and order directly with credit cards or POs using the integrated checkout functionality.
With Paperless Parts digital quoting, you can expect fast quotes, seamless collaboration, and direct communication with built-in documentation. Secure file sharing keeps your intellectual property (IP) protected at all times.
3. Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
A solid ERP system is imperative for precision machining shops to stay on track through project completion. ERPs manage financials, operations, reporting, supply chain tracking, human resource issues, and other business operations.
We use ProShop for top-notch planning and shop management. ProShop not only contains and organizes many pieces of information about a given project into one place but can also help us take multiple actions in parallel. It creates internal efficiencies and maintains consistency.
When our team is spread across shifts, ProShop keeps track of all the moving parts of a project so team members coming into work can get up to speed quickly. ProShop has some excellent features, such as the ability to anticipate tool life expectancy and the ability to digitize setups (using pictures, drawings, and videos simultaneously). It’s also ITAR and CMMC compliant.
The Future of Industry 4.0 at Reata Engineering
Looking ahead, we’re excited for future advancements that will further drive efficiencies in manufacturing. Using the technology and equipment we have and plan to acquire, we’ll start anticipating issues with our machines and even prevent failures before they occur.
For example, we may soon have the ability to manage machine part replacement proactively. Our machines could alert us when a spindle needs to be replaced, allowing us to look at our workflow and identify the right time to order and install it without disrupting operations.
Industry 4.0 helps us prepare for future events to better serve our customers. With digitized machines and automated programs, we reduce downtime and ensure our time on the shop floor is spent getting customer orders out the door—not fixing machinery.
We strive to provide our customers with best-in-class parts and manufacturing services, and we depend on Industry 4.0 to help us deliver. By implementing the latest technology and integrating our equipment, quoting software, and ERP, we can optimize efficiency and act quickly to meet our customers’ needs. Let us show you what we can do; request a secure quote today.