Industry 4.0 isn’t just manufacturing industry jargon. It truly marks a place in time where we as manufacturers are launching more rapidly into new technologies than ever before. In this article, we’ll explain what is Industry 4.0, why it is important, and what features of Industry 4.0 you can embrace to keep up with the competition.

What Is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is the name given to the concept that we are currently in the fourth industrial revolution. Introduced at the Hannover Fair in Germany in 2011, Industry 4.0 is marked by automation in manufacturing technologies. Other hallmarks of Industry 4.0 include the inclusion of digital technologies in manufacturing, advanced analytics, interconnectivity of devices, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and collection of real-time data.

A Brief History of Industrial Revolutions

All industrial revolutions have had significant economic, cultural, and social impacts, and Industry 4.0 is no different. To fully understand the implications of Industry 4.0, here’s a brief refresher on the industrial revolutions that have come before.

The First Industrial Revolution

The First Industrial Revolution started in the late 1700s and was marked by the rise of factories, the mechanization of textile production, the introduction of steampower, and improvements in transportation, including railroads. The result was urbanization, changes in social class structure, and environmental impact.

The Second Industrial Revolution

The Second Industrial Revolution began around one hundred years later, roughly around 1870. Also called the Technological Revolution, this period saw advancements in steel production, the expansion of electricity use, chemical innovations including fertilizers and dyes, and mass production in the form of assembly lines. It also saw innovations in the oil and gas industry with the creation of the internal combustion engine.

The implications of this revolution were global, as trade and investment expanded past Western borders to the east and also across the United States to the west coast.

The Third Industrial Revolution

The Third Industrial Revolution is known as the Digital Revolution and began with the advent of computers and the Internet. This period saw the transition from analog to digital technology, increasing automation in manufacturing and streamlining information access. Advancements in telecommunications helped further globalize the economy.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, now known as Industry 4.0, marks the exciting times we’re in today. In this time period, we’re experiencing the rise of smart factories, advanced analytics, real-time big data capture, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), AI, ML, cloud computing, and more.

Realizing the economic and social impacts of the previous industrial revolutions should help you understand the importance of Industry 4.0, and excite you to take advantage of these rising technologies.

 

What Technologies Are Included in Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is a concept encompassing an indefinite time period. Here are some of the hallmarks of Industry 4.0 that you can actively engage with today.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) refers to interconnected devices, including sensors, machines, and other tools with network connectivity capabilities. Smart factories rely on the IoT to creative a comprehensive ecosystem wherein all devices work together seamlessly. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

AI and ML are rapidly increasing in importance in the manufacturing world and the world at large. Software uses AI and ML to analyze and distribute data that can be used to make decisions, and even automate the decision making process, in real-time. Some of these devices include human-machine interfaces (HMI) and programmable logic controllers (PLC).

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing refers to digital functions and information storage that happens on the internet instead of a local server. Cloud computing allows teams to access vital data remotely, creating safer manufacturing environments for employees. It also lowers the need for expensive hardware investments.

Edge Computing

Edge computing improves response times and saves bandwidth by bringing computation and data storage closer to the location where it’s used. 

Digital Twins

Digital twins are virtual simulations of physical objects or systems, from products to machines, that are crafted using real-time data. Digital twins can simulate and predict the performance of the physical objects they represent, saving time, money, and environmental impact.

Cybersecurity

Where there is value, there will always be someone trying to steal it. That’s why cybersecurity is such a crucial component of Industry 4.0. As all the above advancements continue to spring our modern world into the future, cybersecurity must continuously evolve to safeguard us.

Advanced Robotics

Robotics are not new, but in Industry 4.0, they are more autonomous and can be programmed to more intricate tasks. They can also be configured to make adjustments based on real-time data.

Interconnectedness through ERP

Interconnectedness and interoperability are the main staples of Industry 4.0. Humans, machines, devices, and sensors all operate seamlessly, connected by a central ERP control center. All use big data, advanced analytics, and real-time communication to maximize efficiency in manufacturing.

 

How to Join the Industry 4.0 Revolution

Like all industrial revolutions, any company that refuses to embrace and invest in digital transformation will be left in the dust. To join Industry 4.0, start by contacting our digital transformation experts at ProphecyIoT. Together, we’ll assess where you’re at and plan where you can go.