April 7th 2020
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, more popularly coined as Industry 4.0, is brought upon us by restlessly growing volumes of data and all-consuming automation. These are the major modern IT tendencies that cover absolutely any type of business. The ultimate impact of Industry 4.0 is especially focused on the manufacturing sector.
Big Data, the IoT (Internet of Things), cloud capacities, AI-based solutions, as well as the focus on environmentally-sustainable production. These novel technological integrations and tendencies become a real necessity for manufacturing businesses worldwide to stand the competition and keep up with the times.
Industry 4.0 – What Does it Mean?
The term and the basic industry 4.0 model was initially introduced in 2011 by Siemens and backed up by the government of Germany. The main gist – global digitalization of all underlying business processes in place of mechanical and analog approaches that gradually become obsolete.
Essentially, however, it all started at the end of the 18th century. Thus:
- 1st industrial revolution took place in 1784 when water- and steam-powered mechanisms swept all sorts of production;
- 2nd industrial revolution followed in 1870, bringing about the expansive, impeccable electrical energy capacities;
- 3rd industrial revolution was marked by pioneering IT and programmable solutions first introduced in 1969;
Up to date, we have the 4th industrial revolution in full swing, powered by the merge of virtual assets with reality, IoT, etc.
The whole industry 4.0 notion has been actively pushed and supported by world-leading enterprises shifting toward advanced solutions and cost/time/eco-efficient approaches.
Thus, the industry 4.0 impact on business is slightly felt in some niches while completely transforming others with the following set of technologies and concepts.
The 9 Pillars of Industry 4.0
Big Data & analytics
The field of manufacturing has grown to accumulate enormous amounts of data that must be processed and stored properly. Big Data solutions open great opportunities for saving costs and enhancing manufacturing via predictive maintenance, fast structuring of extreme data volumes, insightful anomaly detection, and more.
Robotization on the manufacture is a sure way to cut costs and accelerate the production without sacrificing any quality. With modern automation capabilities, the end-product quality may even be boosted.
Using modern technologies, you can save lots of costs, prevent any possible errors, and avoid non-profitable manufacturing models by simulating the underlying processes virtually. Simply put, you can try out product design, its verification, machine settings, integrations, production processes, and customizations in the virtual environment before implementing them in practice.
Horizontal & vertical system integration
Industry 4.0 brings to the table new advanced digital workflow capabilities. IoT-based, Big Data-powered networks could be fully integrated with enterprise systems across the organization’s entire supply chain (horizontal) and enterprise’s business units (vertical).
It will allow for a new level of automation, resulting in boosted overall efficiency and lower production costs.
Industrial Internet of Things
The IoT allows remotely interconnecting numerous analyzing devices within a centralized network. The supply chain you have right now can be fully transformed for the better with advanced shipment tracking, real-time routing data accumulation and analysis, and even optimal route predictions based on the environmental conditions and such.
Industry 4.0 is a combination of technologies that is leading to the building of smart, flexible and variable cyber-physical networks. That’s why modern IT manufacturers have to focus on the means of reinforcing in-house cybersecurity so much.
Modern cloud capacities help to solve several major issues at once – cloud storage is more secure than physical servers, it is cost-efficient, faster in data processing, and absolutely unlimited in space.
Additive manufacturing technologies advance and grow in demand by the day. You can build eco-friendly mockups and 3D models of any shape and size. Moreover, readymade, working products and materials can be built via modern 3D printers through manufacturing-as-a-service business model to save your in-house manufacturing time and expenses.
Augmented reality (AR)
AR revolutionized real estate and manufacture. The ability to demonstrate full-blown object models of any scale and complexity in 3D attracts tons of customers and investors while optimizing business capabilities as a whole. In particular, AR in manufacturing helps to explore virtual hardware models and simulate various working conditions to settle with the most profitable, efficient directions for further development.
enterprise resource planning On top of these essential trends and technologies, we can also mention mobile developments, data communication and network technologies, manufacturing execution systems, (ERP), location detection technologies, advanced human-machine interfaces, and real-time data visualization.
How Can Industry 4.0 Benefit Business?
Improved product quality
Virtual simulation software allows for more precise and thorough tests of products; additive manufacturing practices improve prototyping; all in all, you get to create better products faster if you’re up to the industry 4.0.
This is plain and simple – if you are well-adapted to the industry 4.0 standards and tendencies, then you are far ahead of anybody in the market that isn’t. You ultimately get to outrun slower competitors with faster time-to-market, more in-depth product customization, and overall increased production efficiency.
What the Future Holds
Total supply chain transformation to achieve advanced results, significant improvement in the overall quality of on-demand manufacturing solutions – these are only some of the major changes industry 4.0 is yet to bring. For an everyday consumer, the whole thing means that basically everything that can be automated and made smart will be enhanced in that direction. All in all, the fourth wave of the industrial revolution is expected to:
- Establish novel business models – Manufacturing as a Service (MaaS) becomes a new profitable opportunity to better distribute manufacturing costs and organize in-house workflow (3DHub and Xometry already provide such services); on-demand manufacturing allows shifting from the mass production standards to individual approaches (3D Systems, Fictiv, for instance); and the ability for manufacturers to provide services/products on the market rather than just be a production intermediary.
- Develop innovative products & services – IoT sensors, dedicated mobile apps, advanced materials, enhanced product planning, advanced software development for manufacturing companies, etc. allow for creating top-of-the-line yet cost-efficient progressive solutions.
- Connect & interact with customers in new ways – now that you can analyze user behavior, you get to predict the next moves of your customers. You can also set up dynamic AI-based pricing, provide geolocation features, and grab the customer attention better with mobile apps, pop-ups, and such.
- Contribute to the growth of global employment rates – the impact of the industrial revolution is expected to increase global employment rates by 6% in the following ten years. The demand for specialists in advanced tech niches will grow tenfold, which is a great chance for many to revitalize their business.
- Combine AI & Machine Learning better – the inevitable advancement of AI and Machine Learning capacities enables predictive maintenance (which, in turn, helps to minimize production wastes and expenses), generative design, optimized supply chain, and in-depth processing of crucial manufacturing information in real time.
One thing is for sure – no matter the consequences, the impact of the fourth industrial revolution will be felt by all. The technological landscape continues to change as we know it, making everybody who wants to survive and prosper further timely adapt.