Today, the amount of available data is exploding. It is said that 90% of the data in the world today has been created over the past two years. Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) have become everyday parlance. Translated into industry speak, we’re talking about the Industrial Internet or Industry 4.0, known as the fourth industrial revolution following the steam engine, assembly line, and numerically controlled machines. Governments around the world are creating expert groups to ensure that they do not fall behind.
What is Industry 4.0?
While the earlier industrial revolutions aimed to liberate mankind from physical work, the fourth industrial revolution is more about automating processes that were previously dependent on human intelligence. The concept was coined in Germany in 2011 by the German government as a strategic initiative to strengthen domestic production. Germany, which has historically been skilled at manufacturing but not as good at IT, identified a risk in not being able to keep up with developments as production apparatuses become more and more digitized.
Smart factories optimises production
Industry 4.0 strengthens the competitiveness of companies by opening up the possibility of manufacturing personalized products at lower costs and with shorter lead times. Smart factories are being built with intelligent machines that can both mass produce as well as manufacture small series of customized products.
From a technological perspective, this is about connecting machinery and sensors to the network and enabling the products on the assembly line to tell the machines how they are to be processed and enable machines to send information on how they can be better utilized in order to optimise production.
Interconnected systems enables new business models
This is not limited to the factory floor. Intelligent, interconnected systems now seamlessly bring together actors in the entire value chain, from suppliers to customers and from design to after-sales. In the end, perhaps your customers will only be paying for the amount of time they use the machine that you supply, with you as the supplier being responsible for maintenance and making sure that the machinery is available when needed.