Industry 4.0, also known as the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution,' is the next phase of manufacturing improvement. At it's core, Industry 4.0 is the ongoing technological improvement of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices using modern smart technologies.
By implementing Industry 4.0 into their operations, manufacturers create opportunities for improved efficiency, higher revenues and increased innovation.
Below are the nine technology trends that make up Industry 4.0, accompanied by their definitions:
Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing
Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, is the practice of adding layers of material, such as plastic, metal, concrete or wood, on top of each other to create a product. Due to the many benefits and applications this practice provides, which includes rapid prototyping, repairs, waste reduction and more flexible innovation, additive manufacturing has quickly grown in popularity in the manufacturing world.
Extremely large data sets that maybe analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations.
Shared pools of configurable computer system resources and higher-level services that can be rapidly provisioned with minimal management effort, often over the Internet. Cloud computing relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale, similar to a public utility.
Cybersecurity encompasses all measures taken to protect a company from the unauthorized use of electronic data. By safeguarding all hardware, software and information from internal and external threats, manufacturers can stay protected and prosperous while capitalizing on the benefits of the Internet of Things, interconnectivity and other technologies.
Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality(AR) technology super imposes computer-generated images onto a user's view of the world, thus incorporating extra information into the real environment. Virtual Reality (VR) technology provides complete immersion through three-dimensional simulated environments that users can interact within a seemingly real way using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.
System Integration allows manufacturers to utilize business management software like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to collect, store, manage and understand data from a variety of areas. This essentially provides one centralized location for all data gathered throughout the organization, making for simpler and more efficient data management and increased transparency into business operations overall.
Simulation allows manufacturers to create virtual representations of a part or process on a computer. This allows businesses to validate a product, process or improvement idea without needing to incur the full expense up front. Robotics/Automation-Mechanical or electrical engineering coupled with computer science used to design, construct, operate and apply robots, including the computer systems for their control, sensory feedback and information processing.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT involves the use of sensors and communications technology to collect and share data in a more efficient manner. With this increased level of interconnectivity, factories can function like a well-oiled machine, with technology in all areas communicating with each other in real-time to create an environment of complete visibility and productivity.