Industry 4.0 – A Simple Explanation

Some dismiss Industry 4.0 as the latest marketing buzzword, but this has changed the manufacturing industry in the last few years. The shifts that are happening in the manufacturing industry due to Industry 4.0 deserves our attention.

The digitization of the manufacturing process has led to a significant transformation in the way that we produce products. The transformation in the industry is so compelling that it is being called Industry 4.0 to represent the fourth industrial revolution that has occurred in manufacturing. The third industrial revolution was defined by the addition of computers and automation to the manufacturing process, but the fourth revolution takes this a step further with the addition of smart systems using data and AI or machine learning.


How will Industry 4.0 affect the future?

The addition of computers and automation to the manufacturing process was quite disruptive as this meant the addition of entirely new technology. With these systems already in place, it will be easier to upgrade systems, instead of having to install entirely new ones. The aim is to have computers connected and communicating with one another to make decisions without human involvement.

A combination of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things (the extension of internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects) and the Internet of Systems make Industry 4.0 possible. This can bring the dream of a smart factory into reality as a result of smart machines constantly learning more as they get access to more and more data. Our factories will become more efficient and less wasteful.


How could Industry 4.0 be applied to manufacturing today?

Opportunities can be identified that were not possible before. All connected machines in the network will collect a tremendous amount of data which can be used to inform maintenance, performance and other departments or issues.