Cutting edge-technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the growth of data analytics all lead to a change in manufacturing activities, transforming manual processes into data and machine-driven operations. This ongoing industrial data transformation is called Industry 4.0.
As we are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, it's essential to understand the seven most prominent trends that are behind the current revolution. Knowing the key trends will enable you to optimize your own target industrial performance.
Trends of Industry 4.0
The adoption of the Internet of Things, crowned as the backbone of Industry 4.0, is being deployed across many business operations. According to industry predictions, at least half of business applications will be enabled by IoT by 2024.
"The Internet of Things allows people and things to be connected Anytime, Anyplace, with Anything and Anyone, ideally using Any path/network and Any service."
In industry, the term IoT implies the use of sensors, control systems, machine-to-machine communications, data analytics, and security mechanisms.
IoT enables machines and business processes to communicate without the interference of humans. As a result of this, the company can now entirely focus on optimizing business outcomes and, ultimately, improve the customer experience.
Industrial Big Data
A network of interconnected objects through embedded technology feeds directly into Big Data. Thanks to new technologies being deployed, IoT is collecting more and more information every day from a variety of sources, including manufacturing equipment, production plants, vehicles, individual sensors, and industrial networks.
A survey by McKinsey Global in 2015 claimed that Big Data exploitation in manufacturing can decrease product development and assembly costs by up to 50%, and can cause a 7% reduction in working capital. Later developments in the industry have proven this to have been an accurate prediction.
Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) connect the virtual world of IT and software with the physical world of machine tools. They can be defined as "physical and engineered systems whose operations are monitored, controlled, coordinated, and integrated by a computing and communicating core." The focus with CPS lies with the communication between these physical and engineered systems, not on how they act separately.
Linking the two worlds leads to the creation of a vast amount of industry data. However, to unveil the actual value of this data, the big data analytics team and its software need to perform analytics. Businesses are putting more and more focus on transforming basic production systems into cyber-physical production systems.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Setting up future manufacturing projects with the help of automation and AI will reduce the amount of manual labor needed for these set-ups. Scaling up and faster speed of business projects are two causes leading to a higher industry standard.
The expert view is that including machine learning in the manufacturing process improves the speed and quality of these projects. However, there is still room for growth within this evolution. Not only can AI be used in the manufacturing process on the factory floor, but with AI algorithms, you are also able to better anticipate and respond to market shifts.
With the combination of IoT, industrial big data, and AI, you can turn your factory into a smart factory that operates according to the new rules of manufacturing. Smart factories are the end goal of Industry 4.0: they are factories in which machines and resources communicate and are connected to a network.
Achieving this requires that machine tools, resources (including humans), and existing IT tools should be connected to the internet. This will result in the machine tools being transformed into cyber-machine tools, enriched with knowledge provided by the data capturing and analytics.
Eventually, existing IT tools and business management tools will be connected to the network, capturing heterogeneous data from different sources. Such a smart enterprise will produce intelligent products (smart products) that know how they have been produced and will collect and transmit data as they are being used. These vast amounts of industrial big data can then be collected and analyzed.
Smart factories can be considered as a specialization of big data: a case in which big data technologies and methods are extended to meet the needs of manufacturing.
To keep up with the pace of the growing data, we need a network that does not slow us down. To ensure your industrial data can get collected and analyzed quickly, you need a fast network that empowers you to do so. Tools that are connected to a fast network allow for increased productivity in manufacturing processes.
Not only machines but also workers will be connected to this fast network. They will be connected to tools that will operate on a faster network. 5G is the growing trend in this, and it being wireless simplifies the addition of new IoT devices.
The ongoing fourth industrial revolution arrives in the most critical decade for climate action. Industry 4.0 uncovers an opportunity to act positively on this at a large scale level.
With the help of IoT, we can increase manufacturing efficiency and better predict our emissions, minimizing them. It will also produce insights into what type of energy and how much energy we use. Leveraging the technologies that enable us to work more efficiently will, in turn, reduce emissions and energy consumption, creating more environmentally friendly businesses.
The impact of Industry 4.0
Being trendy is not enough: understanding the impact that this ongoing revolution will have on your manufacturing processes and the world is the key. Enabling IoT and implementing other trends will allow you to make highly efficient supply chains. You will be able to focus on business outcomes, providing the best service to your customers.
As per the prediction of the SMLC (Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition), by correctly implementing industrial data, you are able to reduce capital intensity by 30%, reduce product cycle times by 40%, have a positive impact on energy, emissions, waste, and productivity.
While capital investment is needed to adjust and profit off of Industry 4.0 fully, there is already plenty of real-life data to prove that the payback time of this investment is advantageous to your business processes.