What is Industry 4.0?

December 22, 2020



min read

What is Industry 4.0?

Since the late 19th century, the world has experienced three industrial revolutions. First came the steam engine's introduction, followed by the introduction of assembly lines, electricity, and the birth of mass production.

The third revolution was computer powered automation that enabled people to program robots and machines to complete tasks.

Today, we are the cusp of what many believe to be the fourth industrial revolution -- sometimes referred to as Industry 4.0 -- which is quickly modifying the landscape of industry.

Industry 4.0 Explained

Industry 4.0 refers to the automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices by the use of contemporary smart technology. This fourth industrial revolution is driven by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as well as cyber-physical systems — smart, self-directed systems using machine learning and sophisticated algorithms to control and monitor physical assets like robots, machines, and vehicles.

A critical aspect of Industry 4.0 is digitalization: the creation of a digital thread, or many digital threads, which connect the physical and the cyber worlds. In manufacturing, this means multidimensional connections between everything from design to processes to engineers and managers. These connections allow real time operational visibility, accurate data based decision making and automatic processes optimizations.

Alongside making everything in your supply chain smart, Industry 4.0 interconnects with back-end systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) in order to give your company an unparalleled level of control and visibility. In the long run, Industry 4.0 will be a crucial part of the digital transformation of any manufacturer.

Industry 4.0 Technologies

1. Autonomous Robots

With the fourth industrial revolution, a new generation of autonomous robots is emerging. Programmed to carry out tasks with less human intervention, autonomous robots differ significantly in function and size. They are equipped with cutting-edge software, sensors, machine vision, and AI, making it possible for them to carry out delicate and challenging tasks. They can also identify, analyze, and act on the data they receive from their environments.

2. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

IIoT uses wireless connection to integrate all parts of the industrial plant or a smart factory that could be used for sensor data, machine to machine communication, and machine learning. This technology allows your company to run smoother supply chains, rapidly design and alter products to stay on top of customer preferences, prevent equipment downtime, track inventory and products, and much more.

3. Horizontal and Vertical Integration

Horizontal integration is the networking of systems and machines within a manufacturing line, as well as between suppliers, companies, and customers. With vertical integration, all production levels right from the production floor to the business level of a company are connected. Specifically, production is integrated with business processes such as sales and marketing, quality assurance, and other departments.

4. Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality is used for things such as selecting parts in a warehouse via robotics. Here, mobile devices or smart glasses are used to visualize real-time internet of things (IoT), training content, digitized parts, and more when observing a physical thing. AR could tell you where to place the repair tools and how to repair a particular spot in the real world.

5. Cyber-Security

With increased technology, integration, and networking, it's increasingly imperative to invest in cyber-security high-levels. By investing in this, you could automate threat detection, deterrence, and response – and reduce the risk of production delays and data breaches across your networks.

6. Big Data & Analytics

This refers to the complex process of getting information pertaining to things like customer preferences, unknown correlations, and market trends. The gathered analytics permits your business to make smart decisions concerning what they ought to produce or do.

7. Cloud Computing

Cloud technology goes way beyond scalability, speed, cost efficiencies, and storage. It offers a foundation for the most advanced technologies and gives your business a means to innovate. The data used to fuel Industry 4.0 technologies lives in the cloud, and the cyber-physical systems at the center of Industry 4.0 use it to coordinate and communicate.

8. Simulation

This permits you to have a digital copy of the thing you can test as well as manipulate digitally. It is also vital in overseeing production and employee training. Additionally, these simulations leverage real-time data to reflect the corporal world in a virtual model that may include products, machines, and humans.

9. 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is another major technology driving Industry 4.0, which now offers a wide range of applications. For instance, with additive manufacturing, you can store products and parts as design files in virtual inventories to be printed any time demand arises — minimizing both transportation costs and distances.

Benefits of Industry 4.0

Here are some of the benefits of Industry 4.0 you stand to enjoy:

1. Improved Productivity

Industry 4.0 technologies enable you to produce faster and more while allotting your resources more efficiently and cost-effectively.

2. Increased Collaborative Working and Knowledge Sharing

Industry 4.0 technology allows your business processes, production lines, and departments to communicate irrespective of time zone, platform, or other factors.

3. Makes Compliance Easier

With Industry 4.0 technologies, it has become more comfortable for you to automate compliance, including quality inspections, data logging, track and trace, serialization, and more.

4. Better Customer Experience

Industry 4.0 technologies also present you with opportunities to enhance your service to clients and improve the client's experience. Additionally, you will have lesser issues with product availability, you can offer more choices to your customers, and the quality of the product is enhanced.

5. Establishes Innovation Opportunities

The fourth industrial revolution heightens your knowledge of the supply chains, manufacturing process, business performance, distribution chains, as well as the products you manufacture.

What Industry 4.0 Means for Manufacturing

In a nutshell, Industry 4.0 is the way of the future and a crucial step in increasing the flexibility, sophistication, efficiency, and productivity of industry. By bringing the lessons of digital transformation and automation to the shop floor, leaders in manufacturing are fundamentally changing the way that products are made.

Want to know more about how you can implement Industry 4.0 for your business? Launchpad utilizes a digital thread which starts with a product design and takes it to autonomous manufacturing. Contact us today and get an opportunity to learn more about our innovative manufacturing process and get started right away.

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