A Case Driven Study of the Use of Time Series Classification for Flexibility in Industry 4.0

Sensors (Basel). 2020 Dec 18;20(24):7273. doi: 10.3390/s20247273.


With the Industry 4.0 paradigm comes the convergence of the Internet Technologies and Operational Technologies, and concepts, such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud manufacturing, Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), and so on. These concepts bring industries into the big data era and allow for them to have access to potentially useful information in order to optimise the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE); however, most European industries still rely on the Computer-Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) model, where the production systems run as independent systems (i.e., without any communication with the upper levels). Those production systems are controlled by a Programmable Logic Controller, in which a static and rigid program is implemented. This program is static and rigid in a sense that the programmed routines cannot evolve over the time unless a human modifies it. However, to go further in terms of flexibility, we are convinced that it requires moving away from the aforementioned old-fashioned and rigid automation to a ML-based automation, i.e., where the control itself is based on the decisions that were taken by ML algorithms. In order to verify this, we applied a time series classification method on a scale model of a factory using real industrial controllers, and widened the variety of parts the production line has to treat. This study shows that satisfactory results can be obtained only at the expense of the human expertise (i.e., in the industrial process and in the ML process).

Keywords: Industry 4.0; automation architecture; flexibility; machine learning; time series classification.