We’re in the midst of a significant transformation regarding the way we produce products thanks to the digitization of manufacturing. This transition is so compelling that it is being called Industrial Revolution 4.0 to represent the fourth revolution that has occurred in manufacturing.
From the first industrial revolution to the mass production and assembly lines using electricity in the second, the fourth industrial revolution will take what was started in the third with the adoption of computers and automation and enhance it with smart and autonomous systems fueled by data and machine learning.
In October 2012 the Working Group on Industry 4.0 presented a set of Industry 4.0 implementation recommendations to the German federal government. The Industry 4.0 workgroup members and partners are recognized as the founding fathers and driving force behind Industry 4.0.
On 8 April 2013 at the Hannover Fair, the final report of the Working Group Industry 4.0 was presented. This working group was headed by Siegfried Dais (Robert Bosch GmbH) and Henning Kagermann (German Academy of Science and Engineering).
Companies who are adopting the technologies realize I.R 4.0's potential. In order to thrive, business leaders will have to actively work to expand their thinking away from what has been traditionally done, and include ideas and systems that may never have been considered. From rethinking their strategies and business models, to discovering the right investments in training and potentially disruptive R&D investments with I.R 4.0.
The future is happening around us. And we must rise to the challenge to meet it and thrive in the new industrial revolution.
Before moving forward, it is important to understand the current state of the industry, new and modified technologies, and how you can leverage them to improve your processes. More importantly, make sure you have the resources necessary to supply any upgrades:
Optimize logistics and supply chains: A connected supply chain can adjust and accommodate when new information is presented. If a weather delay ties up a shipment, a connected system can proactively adjust to that reality and modify manufacturing priorities.
Autonomous equipment and vehicles: There are shipping yards that are leveraging autonomous cranes and trucks to streamline operations as they accept shipping containers from the ships.
Robots: Once only possible for large enterprises with equally large budgets, robotics are now more affordable and available to organizations of every size. From picking products at a warehouse to getting them ready to ship, autonomous robots can quickly and safely support manufacturers. Robots move goods around Amazon warehouses and also reduce costs and allow better use of floor space for the online retailer.
Internet of Things and the Cloud: A key component of I.R 4.0 is the Internet of Things (IoT) that is characterized by connected devices. Not only does this help internal operations, but through the use of the cloud environment where data is stored, equipment and operations can be optimized by leveraging the insights of others using the same equipment or to allow smaller enterprises access to technology they wouldn’t be able to on their own.