Due to the digitization of production, we are on the edge of a dramatic change in the way we manufacture products. This transformation is so compelling that it has been named “Industry 4.0” to signify the fourth manufacturing revolution. The first industrial revolution identified by water and steam power was just the beginning of a long ongoing process. The second revolution followed with mass production and assembly lines using electricity. After decades of development, the fourth industrial revolution is just around the corner. Industry 4.0 will build on what was started in the third revolution with the adoption of computers and automation by adding smart and autonomous systems powered by data and machine learning.
What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 is the digital transformation of the value chain and manufacturing processes. The core of Industry 4.0 are cyber-physical systems, such as “smart machines.” They have implemented software systems and modern control technologies that keep them connected to Internet addresses. By doing this, production processes get networked and can communicate to optimize work in real-time, as well as enable new ways of production. Such smart machines are the fuel of smart factories as they boost capabilities from the Industrial Internet of Things – remote monitoring, and track and trace.
Main Characteristics of Industry 4.0
To better understand the notion of the fourth revolution, there are some specifics that make it different from the previous three revolutions:
- Automation, which is developed to a next level in contrast with the third revolution;
- Data exchange in control systems – the cyber-physical systems, enabled by Industrial IoT;
- One smart system where smart products define the production processes and steps rather than a central industrial control system;
- Personalized products.
Fundamentally, the technologies that enable Industry 4.0 make use of existing data and new data sources, creating a smooth flow of information across the value chain. This corresponds to data from connected assets which results in efficiencies on multiple levels and transforming existing manufacturing processes.
Application of Industry 4.0
The use of smart machines can improve businesses in several different cases:
Internet of Things and the Cloud
As it was mentioned above, IoT is an essential characteristic of industry 4.0. It aids internal operations by storing data in a cloud. Thus, equipment and operations could be optimized by utilizing the knowledge of others who use the same equipment. As a result, even small enterprises can access technologies they would not be able to on their own.
Since data is collected from sensors of connected machines, it could warn maintenance and performance teams in advance of possible errors. Usually, this information could be acquired by a human; the technology analyzes and identifies patterns that guarantee enough time for reaction. Industry 4.0 helps manufacturers increase efficiency by showing them what needs attention.
Optimization of Logistics and Supply Chain
When new information is supplied, a connected supply chain may modify and accommodate accordingly. For example, if a shipment is delayed due to weather, a networked system can anticipate the situation and adapt manufacturing priorities.
The Future of Industry 4.0
Although there are plenty of benefits that Industry 4.0 carries with it, the world is still on the entering stage of adapting its novelties. Many businesses around the world have already acknowledged the potential of smart machines but there is still room for improvement. Industry 4.0 is the digital transformation of manufacturing; however, the concept requires some more experience and time to become fully acceptable by business owners