i4.0 today

It is now possible for automation to enhance manufacturing responsiveness and quality. Industry 4.0 is best defined as a form of holistic automation and architecture for manufacturing to boost industry through the integration of various aspects of commerce and production. Though this holistic automation was originally intended for use in Germany, the concepts of Industry 4.0 will prove to be a boon to businesses across the world.

Process Automation

The use of Industry 4.0 concepts automate processes that once took an abundance of time, manpower and effort. The new tech road map pinpoints all the key requirements including communicative functionality for processing sensors for everything from complicated devices to basic temperature sensors. Functions range from communication and connectivity through a unified protocol to operating functions, maintenance functions, compliance, tracking, interoperability and beyond. The embedding of sensors that transfer information to control systems and enterprise systems has emerged as a core concept of Industry 4.0. This newfound process automation provides horizontal integration that boosts the value of chain outputs, vertical integration with links from devices at field level and engineering/planning conducted in an end-to-end manner.

The Underlying Tech of Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is possible thanks to the remarkable advances in technology made possible by the Internet of Things. Open software platforms, open data models and advanced processors embedded directly into equipment have proven essential to Industry 4.0’s early success. The underlying tech is rooted in cyber-physical systems or CPS for short.  This term describes the interaction between computing and physical including embedded intelligence. From machines to production parts, sensors, sub-assemblies, actuators and the actual products being manufactured, CPS is essential for optimal efficiency. CPS are comprised of tangible entities that ultimately minimize costs, boost reliability and enhance flexibility.

How Industry 4.0 and Digitization Improve Manufacturing

A Focus on Communication 

Industry 4.0 is centered on the efficient building of production processes that are as autonomous as possible. Such processes often mandate open software along with specific communication standards that permit controllers, sensors, equipment, machines, logistical systems, people and products to communicate and interact with one another in a direct manner. Automation systems of the future will prove that much more effective in an open source environment as currently exists to a limited extent with computers, cell phones and the web. The end result of this enhanced communication powered by advances in tech are increased productivity, heightened efficiency and the widely-coveted machine autonomy.

Taking Advantage of Industry 4.0

Once Industry 4.0 is in full swing, it will prove harmonious with a number of global initiatives including the Industrial Internet of Things, advanced manufacturing and even smart factories making use of smart manufacturing. What once began as a strategic plan in Germany back in 2006 has developed into a fourth industrial revolution of sorts.  Those who take advantage of this technological leap forward are likely to secure that much more market share as time progresses.

About the Author:

Marla DiCarlo is an accomplished business consultant with more than 28 years of professional accounting experience. As co-owner and CEO of Raincatcher, she helps business owners sell their company so they can get paid the maximum value for their company.