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Must-Know Facts about Industry 4.0
by Matt Edwards, Director of Professional Services
IntervalZero Posted 08/02/2017
Industry 4.0 is a much-hyped data exchange and automation trend in the manufacturing sector. It is defined by the presence of cloud computing, cyber-physical systems, and the Internet of Things. Through industry 4.0, computers and automation will integrate with robotics that are remotely connected to computer systems that are in turn well-equipped with algorithms that can control and learn the robotics under minimal human input.
Industry 4.0 was designed to revolutionize the manufacturing industry with smart factories. This means that factories’ physical processes are monitored by cyber-physical systems that later make devolved decisions based on the information they gather. The physical systems are termed the Internet of Things that communicate and cooperate with each other and humans in real time through the wireless web.
For a factory to be considered Industry 4.0, it should include;
- Information transparency: the industrial systems craft a virtual copy of the physical world with the help of sensor data with the aim of contextualizing gathered information.
- Interoperability: the system has machines, sensors, devices and humans that connect and communicate effectively.
- Decentralized decision making: this gives cyber-physical systems the ability to make simple decisions that should be as independent as possible.
- Technical assistance: the systems should have the ability to support humans in making decisions, solving problems that arise, as well as assisting with tasks that are termed too unsafe or difficult for humans to handle.
Challenges with Industry 4.0 adoption
Data security may be compromised when shifting to new systems, integrating the systems and granting the systems more access to crucial data. Also, proprietary production knowledge may become a main IT security issue. Maintaining a production’s integrity under reduced human watch can be challenging. There is a chance that technical problems that could lead to expensive production outages would arise while smart factories are bound to reduce the number of jobs in the market significantly.
Most importantly, there is the consistent lack of manpower and experience to create quality smart factory systems and implement them. Also, investors and stakeholders are reluctant to invest in new technologies. They need reassurance in numbers that they will not lose their investment.
Benefits of industry 4.0
However, the benefits of Industry 4.0 overweigh the concerns and challenges faced by most production facilities. The supply chains become more controlled when being governed by data gathered during the manufacturing and delivery processes. Computer control units are able to produce consistent and reliable output and productivity. Moreover, the health and safety of workers is improved greatly since they will not always be dealing with heavy and risky machinery. This means that industries have a chance of increasing their sales, profit margin, and market share.
Industry 4.0 represents the industrial future. As much as most investors and owners may be reluctant to embrace the smart system, it reduces labor expenses to boost the return on investment ratio. So, to maximize profits, industries will have no choice but to embrace the use of industry 4.0 technology.