Along with digital transformation, Industry 4.0 is another buzzword doing the rounds within the manufacturing industry. Deemed the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 promises some huge changes to the way factories work, but what exactly does it look like?
Industry 4.0 is the combination of Internet of Things (IoT) and cyber-physical systems to move the manufacturing industry towards smart factories and the automation of manufacturing processes.
The latest industrial revolution, beginning in 1969, introduced computerisation and the beginning of atomisation within the manufacturing line. Today, sophisticated technology means that robotics can be connected to computer systems equipped with machine learning algorithms allowing for self-learning and control over robotics within the production line requiring minimal input from humans.
Adopting an Industry 4.0 approach will drive efficiency within factories. The manufacturing process will become more flexible and agile, allowing for an improved speed-to-market when designing, testing and launching new products and services.
Today, customer’s expectations are higher, competitors are more aggressive, and manufacturers cannot afford to waste time and resources through error or machine failures.
In a smart factory, everything is connected. Cyber-physical systems can now monitor the physical processes of a factory and make decentralised decisions, due to the integration of computation and physical processes, meaning quality and consistency will be ensured at a lower cost, components are tracked and logged, and waste is reduced.
Cisco's Vision for Smart Factories
This technology will not only radically improve the efficiency and profitability of the manufacturing process, but it will assist with or completely remove the need for human input in tasks too difficult or unsafe for humans and offer support in decision-making and problem-solving.
The technology behind industry 4.0 has been around for while but, like most digital transformation, the reorganisation of infrastructure and production processes rapidly slows the implementation. A mere 42% of manufacturers said they were prepared to embrace the technology introduced by Industry 4.0.
Whilst the manufacturing industry is notably slow at adopting new technologies due to enormous cost of implementing technology across it’s vast infrastructure, the reduction in cost and productivity increase is something manufacturing brands and businesses cannot afford to ignore.
Of course, as the line between the physical and digital world blurs, data security becomes an imposing threat. However, there are steps manufacturers can take to ensure they are protected.
Industry 4.0 does not only promise changes and improvements to the manufacturing industry, but it is also a forecast of the tools and technology the world needs to move towards a smarter society. Other industries must consider the adoption of the concept, principles and technologies of Industry 4.0 to keep up with the digitisation of society.
Smart cities will be built upon this technology, utilising IoT, cloud computing and cyber-physical systems to control and monitor smart transport, smart buildings – even smart healthcare. A connected infrastructure, smarter technologies and the automation of manual processes will begin to revolutionise a wave of industries driving efficiency, flexibility, agility, whist simultaneously lowering costs.
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