Industrial Revolution 4.0

I.R 4.0

What is I.R 4.0?

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.

When did I.R 4.0 started?

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).

Why do we need I.R 4.0?

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.

How can we prepare for I.R 4.0?

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:

  1. Focus on Improving Processes: The ultimate goal or achievement, is to come up with a wholly efficient, maybe even autonomous process that cuts out excess fat, ballooning costs and poor development or operations. Your focus should be on end-to-end process improvement, which will, in turn, help shape collaboration within your organization, even with the necessary hardware and systems.

  2. Implement, Test, Revise and Then Repeat: Implement the technologies and systems, test and revise their setup, and continue doing so for the foreseeable future. More importantly, if something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to look for alternatives or to come up with a better solution. As a manufacturer, you must remain both agile and reliable, which requires a great deal of tact. Pay attention to your efficiency, and look for improvements, then lock them down.

  3. Trial and Test: Adhere to rigorous planning and testing phases before rolling out the official use of a new software tool, application, piece of hardware or system. Put it through its paces, and make sure the solution works for your organization and processes.

  4. Improve Information Management and Organization: Easy-to-use document management system which will help you stay more organized and keep track of various data and information about your organizations and processes. Before your management and production teams can collaborate more effectively, and before they know and can measure progress, you need to have the information available that helps them discern these performance stats. This affords greater transparency across your organization and helps push the boundaries in regards to continuous improvement and enhancement.

  5. Understand Your Customer’s Needs: Manufacturing, development, production and fulfillment are all a means to an end. The ultimate goal is delivering a worthy product or service to consumers. That requires knowing who your customers are and exactly what they want. Make sure your speed, flexibility, reliability, customization and modern enhancements still work to meet the customer’s needs.

  6. Establish a Leader: It’s always best to have a leader or representative focused solely on your brand’s digital transformation. It should be someone knowledgeable and experienced in both modern technology and your company’s processes and requirements. Having a leader allows for improved and streamlined collaboration, and much better adoption strategies, data organization and testing oversight.
Where do we apply I.R 4.0?

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.