The term Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth industrial revolution and is comprised of growing trends in automation, the internet of things, big data, and cloud computing technologies. Just like steam power, electricity, and digital automation of the past, cyber-physical systems will create the factory of the future; the smart factory.
Originating from Germany as part of a Governmental strategy for the computerization of factories, this is a revolution that will spread across industries globally. It is predicted that the adoption of Industry 4.0 will benefit production due to increased connectivity across entire businesses as manual factories are transformed into smart factories.
Cyber-physical systems provide factories with increased connectivity between management level and the production floor. They’re able to monitor the manufacturing process in real time and make decentralized decisions based on data fed back through these networked machines. The autonomous networking of machines and systems along with the inclusion of big data analytics could help predict maintenance issues or system failures and react to them accordingly. Saving valuable time and money for companies. These technologies are also revolutionizing the way things are designed, demand for mass production and even product lifecycles.
But what exactly is driving this revolution?
The Internet of Things and Industry 4.0
The evolution of the Internet of Things has gone beyond internet connected appliances in recent years with the integration of different technologies such as machine learning, embedded systems, and wireless connection. The Internet of Things is pivotal to the inception and evolution of Industry 4.0. The sensors in networked physical connected devices collect data in real time that is valuable to businesses and can help optimize manufacturing processes.
Big Data and Cloud Computing
Using advanced analytics, Big Data is transformed into meaningful information to meet business objectives. Companies now have better means to organize, analyze, and seek the real value of their Big Data as Cloud Computing offers a flexible and affordable way to support business operations, from remote working and backing up information to storing large data sets.
Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
Smart machines like expert systems, digital assistants and autonomous devices are changing manufacturing processes. With advancements in robotics and Artificial Intelligence, this is now disrupting industries once considered safe from automation. These emerging technologies will no doubt have a negative impact on employees and there will be a focus on companies to look at how workers and machines can work together symbiotically.
The Future of Industry 4.0
With the technologies in place and the demand for companies to rapidly adapt to market changes in real time, the future is looking extremely positive for Industry 4.0. By 2020, it’s projected that over 1 billion connected objects will equip factories – a huge increase from the 237 million objects in place today.
The impact of Industry 4.0 won’t be immediate, but with its forecast growth on the rise, more companies will be looking to invest in Industry 4.0 or risk being left behind.