Industry 4.0 might sound like the newest iteration of a SimCity-style tycoon game, but it’s really the biggest shift to hit global manufacturing since automation. Centered around advanced robotics and automation, new ways of human-machine interaction (such as augmented reality) and vast troves of data and boosted connectivity, Industry 4.0 is poised to modernize manufacturing and boost western industrial competitiveness.
Coupled with the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0 offers manufacturers the ability to collect, analyze and act on immense stockpiles of data like never before, and then set those actions in motion with highly efficient, automated robotics. The result? A higher quality product at a lower operating expense.
What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 is a name for the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing.
Industry 4.0 creates what has been called a “smart factory”. Within the modular structured smart factories, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Over the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real time, and via the Internet of Services, both internal and cross-organizational services are offered and used by participants of the value chain.
What are the advantages?
With such immense promise and cutting edge technology, Industry 4.0 requires a major upfront investment. According to a 2017 survey of 1,000 small and mid-size Canadian manufacturers, for example, digital adopters invested an average of $250,000. For larger businesses, the cost would inevitably be higher. But the expected payoff – connected, smart devices and an automated production process – promises a major return on investment.
- Increased competitiveness
- Increased productivity
- Increased revenue and profitability
- Manufacturing process optimization
- Seamless record-keeping and traceability
- Data security