The smart factory is a term we all know well and is used in reference to the implementation of Industry 4.0 in the manufacturing environment. Significant benefits such as improved quality, higher productivity and cost reductions have transformed industries such as automotive and electronics in recent years through implementation of smart connected assembly solutions. Wind energy is catching up. We now see the use of smart tooling with inbuilt intelligence for critical assembly in factories for nacelle and gearbox production, but what happens on work sites out in the field?
There is a significant amount of critical bolting operations take place in construction, commissioning and maintenance which have a direct impact on the turbine performance, reliability and cost. However, the reality is that in many cases conventional bolting methods are still being used in the field due to old processes remaining in place, outdated tool fleets, and a general lack of awareness exactly how smart factory thinking can really be applied in the field with the technology and solutions available on the market today.
The energy transition is happening, but the wind sector must drive a transformation in critical bolting across the full value chain to truly benefit from the possibilities smart connected bolting solutions can bring.
Digitization of manufacturing
The fourth industrial revolution or the digitization of manufacturing has arrived.
A key enabler is the emergence and use of technologies for connecting people, equipment and machines, and with it the capacity for integrated analysis and use of large amounts of data across value chains.
Manufacturing companies have been implementing sensors and automation for decades, but seamless connectivity and communication have been missing for establishing fully connected production network in factories where data is exchanged in real time.