Reliability: How to Determine Which Industry 4.0 Advancements Will Improve Your Operation

feature image

In a previous post on the AZO blog, we explained what Industry 4.0 means in the context of bulk material handling. We also outlined what will truly constitute an opportunity in this area when it comes to sustainability. Now, we’d like to take it all a step further and also relate these potential advancements to what will drive future investments: reliability.

One could say that Industry 4.0 could be more accurately defined as “Reliability 4.0”.  New technology investment usually enhances reliability, resulting in solid financial and administrative improvement. True “reliability” in a manufacturing plant includes production, quality, training and MRO (Maintenance, Repairs and Operations) control system functions. It can also include inventory as well as the incoming and outgoing supply chain functions. Putting the pieces together with what we’ve stated in the previous paragraph, industry 4.0 technologies that improve reliability successfully are more likely to drive additional investments.

In this AZO blog post we hope to provide insight into three categories that could be analyzed in the decision to incorporate future advancements from Industry 4.0 in the bulk material handling world. These categories are:

  1. The assets (machine, device, sensor, etc.) that help produce products.
  2. Handling the ingredients used to make the end-products themselves.
  3. The people who make the products and support the assets.

How fast advancements to these “things” will be applied is anyone’s guess, but you can be sure the most successful products will be those that provide the greatest value to an operation. The key is how each of these products will actually improve “reliability.”

Asset reliability results in improved utilization

An operation’s assets refer to the equipment itself (a material handling system, for example).  Utilization (the amount of time a machine is actually working) could be measured, and, with the right investment, improved over time. Essentially, utilization is the opposite of downtime. By preventing breakdowns, machine utilization can be improved. Industry 4.0 advancements that actually improve reliability will become, by definition, more successful.  

Product reliability leads to improved quality

Are the recipes in an operation being produced correctly? Are they repeatable? Is the packaging spot on? Advancements in Industry 4.0 that don’t provide a resounding “yes” to these questions will not likely be adapted by many manufacturers. Following recipes, avoiding deviation and ensuring consistency is the name of the game for any bulk material handling system — no matter the industry.


The companies that produce world-class billion-dollar products (or are in the process of building such a product) should invest in cutting-edge advancements to maintain their high standards. Consumers pay a premium for these name brands, and tighter ingredient control produces more consistent products.

Personnel reliability improves productivity and effectiveness

People that run bulk material handling operations are at their best when they are able to do their job effectively. There is a lot of talk about “gee-wiz” Industry 4.0 advancements like 3D glasses for example, that enable a worker to view equipment drawings or spare parts lists.  

In the end, Industry 4.0, like any technology, has got to provide a measurable return on investment that enhances their business’ performance and profit. 3D glasses might be useful for some maintenance staff, but it’s a harder case to justify them for production staff. The assets, products and people are all aspects that must be improved by Industry 4.0 products if these products seek to stick around.

If you’d like to know more about how control system design can benefit operations, a new white paper from AZO and our controls partners at Bachelor Controls Inc. (BCI) may just be what you’re looking for. “Advanced Automation: How Intuitive Design Enhances Control Systems” is a free guide that makes common control system nomenclature familiar to engineers who are more mechanically oriented. Stay tuned to our blog to find information on pneumatic conveying, ingredient automation and the reliably accurate equipment that AZO manufactures.

If you find that you have any other conveying queries, you can always feel free to speak to an AZO specialist. BCI, our control system partner, have over 25 years of experience designing, building and installing integrated control systems in AZO automated material conveying systems. To learn more about how you can expect the highest level of quality and reliability for ingredient automation solutions from AZO and BCI, contact our dedicated sales associates today.

Related Blog Posts