March 20, 2020

Understanding Industry 4.0 and Its Building Blocks

Industry 4.0From smartphones to smart home appliances and digital assistants, advanced technology has already changed how we live our lives. Now, it is aiming to transform the industry and how factories and businesses are run.

The combination of traditional industrial and manufacturing processes with the latest technologies, Industry 4.0 is an industrial transformation that is enabling faster, increasingly efficient, and highly flexible processes that produce high-quality goods at lower costs.

In Industry 4.0, machines are connected to the web to drive more value from them. They are also connected to a system that can envisage the complete production chain and then make decisions on its own. This has led to greater efficiencies in manufacturing and industrial operations, changing not only the traditional relationship between humans and machines but also the ones that exist between suppliers, producers, and customers.

The Building Blocks of Industry 4.0

Since Industry 4.0 is technology driven, its building blocks are technology related. The building blocks of Industry 4.0 include the following nine technology trends.

1.      Big Data Analytics

A process that evaluates varied data sets of massive volumes, big data analytics looks at all kinds of data including unstructured, semi-structured and structured datasets to discover market trends, hidden patterns, customer preferences, and hidden patterns; the purpose of this is to allow organizations to make informed decisions.

In the context of Industry 4.0, big data analytics refers to collection and comprehensive analysis of data from several different sources—enterprise and customer management systems as well as production equipment and systems—to support decision making in real time.

2.      Autonomous Robots

In the not so distant future, robots will not only interact with one another in a factory/industrial setting but will also work harmoniously alongside humans and will learn from them. Compared to the robots/machines currently used in manufacturing, these autonomous robots will have a greater range of capabilities and will be less costly.

3.      Simulation

In the industry 4.0 era, there will be more extensive use of simulations in factory operations to utilize data in real-time and create an impression of the physical world in a virtual model. This virtual model can include not just machines but also products and humans.

Simulation in Industry 4.0 will allow factory/plant operators to check the optimize the settings of machines for the next product in line in the virtual world before the changeover is applied in the physical world. This will greatly reduce machine setup times while helping increase quality.

4.      Horizontal and Vertical System Integration

In industry 4.0, there will be increased coherence between teams, functions, and companies; this will happen as the cross-company evolution takes place which will ultimately lead to automated value chains in the truest sense.

5.      Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

IIoT and Industry 4.0 are more or less the same thing; IIoT involves the use of actuators and smart sensors to manufacturing and industrial processes. On the other hand, Industry 4.0 promotes the idea of enriching more devices—which often includes unfinished products—with embedded computing.

The purpose of both IIoT and Industry 4.0 is to allow devices in the ‘field’ to communicate and interact with one another as well as with centralized controllers, as needed. Additionally, both concepts look to decentralize analytics and decision-making to enable responses in real-time.

6.      Cybersecurity

The cybersecurity threat is significant in Industry 4.0 because of the increased connectivity and use of standard communication protocols. This puts pressure on companies to protect their critical manufacturing lines and industry systems from cybercriminals. Companies need to respond by making their communications more reliable and ensuring sophisticated identity and access management of machines and users.

7.      The Cloud

Increasing sharing of data across sites and company boundaries will be need by more product-related undertakings in Industry 4.0. Additionally, we will witness an improvement in the performance of cloud technologies that will help to achieve reaction times of several milliseconds. This will increase deployment of machine data and functionality to the cloud which will enable more data-driven services for production systems.

8.      Additive Manufacturing

It is only recently that companies have started to adopt additive manufacturing. Example of this is 3D printing which organization use mostly to prototype and product individual components.Additive manufacturing methods will be widely used in Industry 4.0 to produce customized products in small batches; these customized products will offer several advantages including lightweight designs.

9.      Augmented Reality

The ninth and final building blocks of Industry 4.0 is augmented reality. A variety of services in Industry 4.0 are supported by augmented reality (AR). This includes the selection of parts in a warehouse and sending instructions for repair over mobile devices.

While AR systems are currently in their infancy and it’s too early to say how they will progress, we predict a broader use of these systems by companies in the future to provide workers with information in real-time to help improve work procedures and decision making.

These are the 9 building blocks of Industry 4.0. The future of Industry 4.0 is tied to how each of its building blocks develops and progresses over the months and years. Also important is how these building blocks of Industry 4.0 complement each other for the good for manufacturing facilities and industries everywhere.

Now that you know about and have understood the building blocks of Industry 4.0, you may be interested in finding out the challenges facing Industry 4.0 and all the advantages associated with this new-age industry that is enabled and driven by technology and technological concepts. Keeping following us to find out the challenges facing Industry 4.0 and the benefits associated with is implementation.

by Bobby J Davidson

We love our company and we love what we do.  Check out the ‘Why Percento‘ page to learn more: Love of Technology and Business!  As the President of Percento Technologies International, I provide day-to-day leadership to the company’s senior management and I am personally involved in the strategy, business development and sales activities of the firm.

The company was founded in 1999 with the purpose of providing a one call source for organizations in need of Enterprise IT Consulting and Management.  We also provide a line of products in the boutique Cloud Server space with a touch of high-end website strategy consulting and design services.   We personalizes the IT Service experience with a team approach, working with clients from diverse sectors of industry, including energy services, financial, legal, entertainment, healthcare, hospitality, retail and general and/or corporate business.