BLOG

What is Industry 4.0?

What is Industry 4.0?

The introduction of this new digital technology brings about a transformation that significantly alters our perception of devices and machines, as well as their efficiency, utilization and control over production processes. The use of the Internet and the integration of industry with the realm of big data mean that, through the collection and analysis of machine data, one can rely on more flexible and efficient production processes. The outcome is the creation of goods of significantly higher quality while simultaneously reducing the cost of these activities.

For the industrial sector, this is a revolution that cannot be ignored. After all, Industry 4.0 is transforming everything, including the relationship between efficiency and the costs incurred, as well as the relationships among:

  • the manufacturer,
  • supplier,

 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is based on maximizing the possibilities of automation while simultaneously processing and exchanging data. In doing so, it brings about a completely new way of manufacturing products. Changes within Industry 4.0 also encompass the digitalization of production, as various equipment such as welding machines, plotters, and boxmakers leverage the full capabilities of the Internet. This includes utilizing Big Data analytics environments, incorporating Internet of Things (IoT) functionalities, and deploying cloud-based solutions.

Industrial Revolutions – Industry 4.0 in historical context

The innovations brought by Industry 4.0 to the manufacturing sector mark the fourth significant change in the industrial world. Its effects are expected to be as profound and impactful as those of the previous industrial revolutions:

  • Industry 1.0: The era of mechanization marked by the invention and introduction of the steam engine.
  • Industry 2.0: The era characterized by the adoption of electricity, replacing steam technology.
  • Industry 3.0: The era distinguished by digitization and the utilization of software for automation and other purposes.

 

Against this backdrop, Industry 4.0 primarily introduces networking and the integration of devices within the industrial sector, and a more efficient flow of information. It combines the physical realm of machines and production with the virtual realm of the Internet, incorporating information flow technology throughout the entire production process. This applies to the entire chain, including:

  • Placement of an order for a given product
  • Preparation of the product based on the machinery park.
  • Shipment of goods to customers.
  • The full process of after-sales services.

 

Industry 4.0 or Smart Industrial Factory

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is closely linked to the concept of the Smart Factory, which implies production based on entirely new methods of organization. This includes:

  • A greater extent of performance personalization, such as the ability to quickly change the settings of a given machine.
  • Reduction in the involvement of human resources in favor of greater utilization of machines.
  • Shifting the role of humans from traditional operational tasks to primarily control and supervisory functions.

 

The implementation of Industry 4.0 brings tangible benefits experienced on multiple levels. The primary benefit is the reduction of production costs. Automation, more so than in the sphere of Industry 3.0, plays a dominant role, requiring only minimal human control. This is followed by a significant increase in productivity. Mass production, regardless of the project specifics, exhibits a reduced error rate. At the same time, Industry 4.0 has a significant impact on access to information. This results in the ability to personalize products, a greater emphasis on short-run production, and a more flexible adjustment of offers to meet current customer demand.

This is also facilitated by modularity, which introduces a new perspective on the machine-tool market. Tools that have been developed as part of Industry 4.0 trends can, in most cases, autonomously modify their operations by adapting to specific new tasks. This is enabled by software updates provided to them via the Internet. When developing systems, the modularity of the equipment allows for the introduction of new solutions and, for example, the elimination of redundant or less significant ones.

Foundations of Industry 4.0: From Analysis to Simulations

If one were to summarize some of the fundamental areas that determine whether a particular machine park is Industry 4.0 compliant, at least seven key ones can be mentioned.

  • Big data and analytics – A comprehensive evaluation of data from diverse sources, including machines and information generated during business management processes.
  • The Role of Robotics – Humans are being superseded by machines and assuming  management and supervisory roles on an even larger scale than before.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) – The mass connection of devices to the network and their remote control and easier communication across sectors.
  • Use of simulation – Creating virtual models to thoroughly test devices and potentially optimize machine settings.
  • Cybersecurity – Increased focus on securing data and accessing devices via the Internet to protect critical system points along the production line.
  • The use of the cloud – Cloud computing and the transition of data from physical disks to virtual clouds result in faster machine response, enhanced security, and improved sharing capabilities.
  • New manufacturing perspectives – Industry 4.0 introduces advancements such as incorporating 3D materials, utilizing previously unused materials, and implementing production prototyping based on unfamiliar schemes.