Manufacturing 4,0 (M4.0) is a term used to describe the integration of advanced digital technologies and principles of the fourth industrial revolution in the manufacturing sector. It uses technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and automation to create more efficient and effective manufacturing processes.

M4.0 emphasizes the development of smart factories where machines, equipment, and systems are interconnected and communicate with each other autonomously. This connectivity enables real-time monitoring, control, and optimization of manufacturing processes. Smart manufacturing also recognizes the importance of human workers in manufacturing. Technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), collectively known as mixed reality, enhance worker productivity and provide real-time information and guidance. Then, of course, there is robotics: Robotics in manufacturing has expanded to include collaborative robots (cobots) that can work alongside humans, enhancing efficiency and flexibility in production lines.

These advanced manufacturing facilities are producing the food, medicine and materials of the future. However, to build an advanced manufacturing facility requires a next-generation construction partner – one who uses C4.0 to build an M4.0 facility.  

Construction 4.0 (C4.0) is the construction industry’s version of M4.0. The term represents the digitization of the construction industry and includes using technologies such as robotics, 3D printing, machine learning, and AI to improve efficiency and productivity.

“PCL is an industry leader in Internet of Things technology,” says Andrew Ahrendt, PCL’s director of national manufacturing business. “We are experts at leveraging technology to monitor job sites more efficiently and reduce risk, and we bring this innovative thinking to each of our job sites.”

One example of C4.0 at work is the development of monitoring equipment such as Job Site Insights (JSI), which PCL created to solve inefficiencies resulting from a lack of real-time job site information and monitoring. JSI is a centralized Internet of Things platform that collects and analyzes data from any connected sensor or asset on a job site, providing real-time monitoring, threshold alerting, and insights to make more data-driven decisions.

The cloud-based platform monitors issues on projects by measuring data points on temperature, humidity, water intrusion, vibration and sound in addition to deliveries, worker site access and safety. JSI creates a real-time sensor tracking model accessible from any device. The insights gained reduce energy use, increase worker efficiency and manage risk, while data is mined for future analytics and AI modeling.

Both M4.0 and C4.0 provide benefits such as:

  • Efficiency and Productivity: The primary goal in both cases is to enhance efficiency, increase productivity, and optimize overall performance by integrating smart technologies.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: Both manufacturing and construction sectors benefit from data-driven decision-making. Analyzing large datasets can provide insights into process optimization, predictive maintenance, and performance improvement.
  • Collaboration and Communication: Using digital technologies facilitates better collaboration and communication among different stakeholders in manufacturing and construction projects.

PCL has been utilizing C4.0 principles to provide innovative solutions for clients since the 1980s when it first began using robotic total stations for layout. The company now leverages technology on construction sites across North America to increase productivity, improve quality and accuracy, and ensure worker safety. The following are just two ways in which these technologies have been utilized: 

Dusty the Robot
UCLA Center for Health Sciences B-Level Facility, Los Angeles, CA

Using robotics allowed the UCLA Center for Health Sciences B-Level Facility team to reduce the layout time from 40 days to eight. Dusty, a construction robot that automates the layout process, resulted in substantial labor savings, increased accuracy, and improved efficiency.

Dusty efficiently measured and marked out each component of the project site. Once the Building Information Modeling (BIM) model was finalized, the cleanroom subcontractor transferred the data to Dusty, enabling the robot to commence work. It completed the layout process in a fraction of the time it would have taken a traditional manual layout crew with a chalk line: Dusty’s wall layout production rate averages 150-250 linear feet per hour.

Dusty provided extraordinary precision, accurately printing pertinent data from the BIM model with a precision of 1/16-inch.

“With the labor shortages companies are facing across North America, tools like Dusty Robotics are extremely beneficial considering they are often more efficient, productive, consistent and accurate than traditional manual methods,” says John Boktor, PCL senior manager, digital construction.

IoT Vibration Sensors
160 Front Street, Toronto, ON

Imagine a 600-foot-long chilled water pressurized pipe carrying water to 40 floors suddenly bursts. The damage caused by such a significant water leak could have been catastrophic, not to mention the safety hazard it could have posed to the workforce during construction or to future tenants.

This was the fear the PCL team faced on the 160 Front Street project in Toronto, Ontario when a chilled water pressurized pipe began vibrating. The constant, high-speed vibrations led to mounting pressure within the pipe that could have resulted in the pipe breaking.

The team was familiar with IoT sensors, already utilizing temperature/humidity sensors on the project. Through project hazard risk assessment, the team identified the need for vibration sensors to manage the risk and opted to magnetically install 30 Latium Technologies JSI IoT-based vibration sensors across the length of the pipe. PCL also installed five Latium Technologies cellular-based gateway hubs that created a site mesh to connect the sensor data to the cloud for real-time data analytics monitoring by the project team.

After the first data set was collected, it was quickly determined which section of the pipe was encountering the high-intensity vibration, which helped determine the root cause and mitigation.

As manufacturing clients build smarter facilities, PCL is building smarter too. The concepts of Industry 4.0 are applied to the manufacturing and construction industries, allowing for significant improvements in productivity, safety and quality. As a technology leader, PCL brings the benefits of these latest technologies to our clients.