Industry 4.0 and the “Smart Factory”
- Created on 20 December 2016
Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth industrial revolution and consists of the trends in data and cloud computing technologies, the internet of things, and automation. These technologies and systems are the driving force of the digital revolution. This revolution has already begun to spread across industries globally and it has been predicted that it will benefit production immensely due to increased connectivity across businesses, transforming manual factories into smart factories.
Utilizing big data analytics will enable production managers to monitor the manufacturing process in real time, allowing them to make accurate decisions through data feedback. It can also help predict maintenance issues or system failures, allowing managers to react to them accordingly. This will result in a significant amount of time and money saved by companies all over the world. These technologies are revolutionizing mass production, the way things are designed, as well as product lifecycles.
A “smart factory” includes the following elements:
- Interoperability — machines, devices, sensors and people that connect and communicate with one another.
- Information transparency — the systems create a virtual copy of the physical world through sensor data in order to contextualize information.
- Technical assistance — both the ability of the systems to support humans in making decisions and solving problems and the ability to assist humans with tasks that are too difficult or unsafe for humans.
- Decentralized decision-making — the ability of cyber-physical systems to make simple decisions on their own and become as autonomous as possible.
The figure below demonstrates the evolution from the first industrial revolution to the fourth
IOT and Cloud Computing
The Internet of Things and Cloud Computing are both crucial elements in the digital revolution. The Internet of Things has evolved far beyond internet connected appliances, where it now includes the integration of different technologies such as embedded systems, machine learning, and wireless connection. The sensors in network connected devices collect data in real time, optimizing the manufacturing process, making it extremely valuable to companies. Businesses now have the ability to analyze, organize and seek the real value of their Big Data through Cloud Computing. Cloud Computing offers an affordable and flexible way to support business operations from remote working and backing up information, to storing large sets of data.
Industry 4.0 is coming relatively quickly, with automation, IOT and Cloud Computing, Big Data and other tech trends being utilized more frequently by businesses. Early adapters of these technologies will be able to reap the benefits, while those who avoid the change will unfortunately risk the chance of becoming irreverent.
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