Throughout the decades, our society has gone through several phases of development thanks to advancements in technology. These technological breakthroughs have had a ripple effect on the world with several economic, social, political, and environmental consequences.
These industrial revolutions, as they are now called, have shaped each period distinctively by introducing the latest technological elements that have evolved the world.
The fourth industrial revolution, also known as industry 4.0, revolves around ideas about interconnection, automation, machine learning, real time data, and other related concepts.
Let’s take a closer look at what industry 4.0 is.
Table of Contents
- The Concepts of Industry 4.0
- The Technologies of Industry 4.0
One of the main concepts of the fourth industrial revolution is interconnection. It means that through the use of technology, certain processes can be linked to provide more convenience.
The concept of interconnection includes the linking of different devices (i.e., Bluetooth technology), the connection of machines that accelerate manufacturing processes (also known as machine-to-machine communication or M2M for short), and even the connection of people through the use of technology that makes long-distance communication even more accessible.
Another concept of the fourth industrial revolution is information transparency. This concept involves more straightforward access to large amounts of data, enabling companies to facilitate better and more informed decision-making.
Industry 4.0 also puts the use of AI assistive technology to help people with tasks that can be challenging, unsafe, complicated, or very time-consuming.
It is anticipated that AI will be utilized to a greater degree in the future, enabling companies to advance their production proceedings and simplify many people’s lives.
Another fundamental concept of the fourth industrial revolution is automation. Industry 4.0 centers on the ability of technology to do decision-making without human involvement.
This will allow businesses to bypass continuous steps that require approvals since they tend to cause significant delays in the production process.
Automation is an important theme in industry 4.0, and we have already started seeing a lot of sectors leaning toward adopting new technologies that enable them to automate many of their processes.
The Technologies of Industry 4.0
Besides more generic concepts, more specific emerging technologies are considered to be the basis of the fourth industrial revolution.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
This technology uses small sensors to collect and monitor real time data regarding performance, efficiency, condition, and more.
Industrial IoT helps companies improve their workflow by getting a better insight into their current processes, thanks to all the collected data.
For example, if a machine is connected to an IIoT system, operations can run smoother as any equipment defects will quickly be detected and fixed. IIoT allows for a continuous feedback flow that supports the evolution of a company.
While IIoT is how companies collect data, analytics powered by artificial intelligence is how the collected data gets processed into factual information, which can then be leveraged to reach conclusions on how to improve internal processes.
AI enables machine learning through the analysis of data, which then allows the making of informed decisions that streamline production.
Cloud technology refers to an online data storage system. Usually, it is an off-site server that stores large amounts of information and does not limit the user on how much data can be processed.
Cloud technology stores and secures your data, allowing you to access and process your information at your convenience.
Augmented reality technology is an emerging field that has recently become more popular. It basically enables digital content to “have a presence” in the physical world.
Through different devices, AR can be utilized in various ways in manufacturing, such as for tasks like inspection, training, as well as presentation.
3D printing is the most famous form of additive manufacturing, which is about creating items by adding new layers. Initially used for prototyping, it is now considered a very efficient solution for the fast mass production of high-demand products.
Instantly printing products within the same space they are ordered is definitely revolutionary as it avoids transportation delays, etc. Moreover, 3D printing is also preferred for its customization capabilities, allowing companies to create specialized tools and equipment in detail.
A digital twin is a simulation of a real-world object, machine, process, or system created through data collection from IIoT sensors. This digital replica can be used for testing new ideas, training, designing products, and evaluating current production systems.
Due to the increased interconnectivity, cybersecurity is also an essential element of industry 4.0. Data breaches are a real and very current threat, so information protection is at the forefront of this technological phase.
Cybersecurity is not just one type of technology but a group of technological tools specializing in protecting digital information and safety measures against online threats.
Hackers and scammers have evolved through the years, and for that reason, protection systems have also improved to safeguard your personal data.
Technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence are utilized to detect, combat, and learn from online attacks to enhance their performance and keep the risk of a data breach at a minimum.
Horizontal and vertical integration alludes back to one of the main themes of the fourth industrial revolution, interconnection. It allows for the continuous sharing of data that helps achieve greater transparency, efficiency, and advancement opportunities.
Industry 4.0 is the new phase of industrial advancement thanks to newer types of technology that are already impacting how products, services, and processes are created and run.
These technologies will revolutionize the industrial world by allowing manufacturing companies to improve their production procedures and how people work.
Some of the technologies at the center of this era have already started affecting the industry, and companies have begun assessing how they can evolve in the coming years.
Change happens in stages, but companies must consider how to take advantage of these emerging technologies to reach their goals, become more effective, and make more profit while beating their competition.