Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing the way companies manufacture, improve and distribute their products. Manufacturers are integrating new technologies, including Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and analytics, and AI into their production facilities and throughout their operations.
This digital technologies lead to increased automation, predictive maintenance, self-optimization of process improvements and a new level of efficiencies and responsiveness to customers not previously possible.
Using high-tech IoT devices in smart factories leads to higher productivity and improved quality. Replacing manual inspection business models with AI-powered visual insights reduces manufacturing errors and saves money and time. With minimal investment, quality control personnel can set up a smartphone connected to the cloud to monitor manufacturing processes from virtually anywhere. By applying machine learning algorithms, manufacturers can detect errors immediately, rather than at later stages when repair work is more expensive.
Industry 4.0 concepts and technologies can be applied across all types of industrial companies, including discrete and process manufacturing, as well as oil and gas, mining and other industrial segments.
History of Revolution
First industrial revolution
Starting in the late 18th century in Britain, the first industrial revolution helped enable mass production by using water and steam power instead of purely human and animal power. Finished goods were built with machines rather than painstakingly produced by hand.
Second industrial revolution
A century later, the second industrial revolution introduced assembly lines and the use of oil, gas and electric power. These new power sources, along with more advanced communications via telephone and telegraph, brought mass production and some degree of automation to manufacturing processes.
Third industrial revolution
The third industrial revolution, which began in the middle of the 20th century, added computers, advanced telecommunications and data analysis to manufacturing processes. The digitization of factories began by embedding programmable logic controllers (PLCs) into machinery to help automate some processes and collect and share data.
Fourth industrial revolution
We are now in the fourth industrial revolution, also referred to as Industry 4.0. Characterized by increasing automation and the employment of smart machines and smart factories, informed data helps to produce goods more efficiently and productively across the value chain. Flexibility is improved so that manufacturers can better meet customer demands using mass customization—ultimately seeking to achieve efficiency with, in many cases, a lot size of one. By collecting more data from the factory floor and combining that with other enterprise operational data, a smart factory can achieve information transparency and better decisions.