The world is about to enter another era of industrial change and it is about to begin in Germany. Why Germany, you ask? Germany has long been the leading global innovator when it comes to the manufacturing industry and it is only in Germany where the environment is suitable enough for this new change: introducing Industry 4.0: The technology that could transform the industrial workforce all over the world in the near future.
Industry 4.0 is a simple short form term for what innovators consider to be the upcoming fourth industrial revolution. This advancement combines the concepts of Internet of Services, Cyber-Physical Systems, and the Internet of Things. This will uplift the business industry with specific impact on areas such as product life cycles, services and business models, machine safety, socio-economic standards, and even workers.
Industry 4.0 lies on a foundation of embedded systems and global networks and Germany prides itself in being one of the countries that enjoy a leading position in security solutions and business enterprise software. This technological innovation operates on a cyber-physical system. This system has enabled the virtual and real worlds to connect with each other resulting in intelligent objects interacting with each other.
Here are some examples for which this kind of innovation can be used:
- Hazard monitoring: ensuring safety and security in transporting hazardous material from one place to the other.
- Intelligent container: making sure that the container used to transport food allows the package to maintain good quality during transport.
- Predictive maintenance: sustaining machinery and its operability through sensor information to prevent damage and promote effectivity and efficiency.
- Elevator maintenance: affordability and convenience of repair through remote means.
- Updating devices: updating devices through convenient and affordable means, especially when these devices are strategically far away.
- Smart cities: use of communication technology and networks for managing traffic flows, water streams, air quality and safety in cities .
Examples of Industry 4.0 and its impact
Big Data-Driven Quality Control
Data collection will never be time-consuming ever again due to this upgrade. The improved measures will analyze company data, identify weak points, other issues or causes of product failures and pinpoint the corresponding solutions to address them easily and effectively. The application of the 4.0 technology will enable companies to accommodate larger data, increase demand for industrial data scientists while reducing the number of workers involved in quality control processes.
Self-Driving Logistics Vehicles
An automatic transportation system has been developed that can work intelligently and independently in a factory, reducing the need for logistics personnel.
The Smart Factory
The fusion between the physical world and the virtual world will pave the way to the future of automated manufacturing. Enter the “Smart Factory” project. The “Smart Factory” project will utilize the cyber-physical systems providing significant productivity results. Automation comes naturally because of the cyber-physical systems and this allows the machine to oversee production. This hugely impacts resources such as time and costs.
It will enable production lines to automatically conform to their own functions and engage in independent action. Again, this may decrease the demand for workers in production planning but will increase the demand for data modeling specialists.
Automated and autonomous robots are no longer a thing of fiction. Industry 4.0 enables robotic workers trained in different areas of production and manufacturing to work on the factory floor with better precision and accuracy. Their appearances can be just like the human form complete with limbs and hands to work with!
Safety sensors and cameras will be placed on these robots, allowing them to interact with their environment. The amount of manual labor required in production may reduce, opening up new job opportunities to those skilled in the area of robotics
Production Line Simulation
This advancement will make use of software that will check the production lines before installation to ensure its effectiveness. Such development will create a demand for industrial engineers and simulation experts.
The Ones behind Industry 4.0
The vision of Industry 4.0 has been made possible by several people and institutions.
Industry-Science Research Alliance
The Industry-Science Research Alliance is composed of 19 leading representatives from science and industry, organized as an advisory group along with a few others to form the Industry 4.0 Working group.
Acatech – National Academy of Science and Engineering
Acatech is a non-profit organization that encourages innovation in addressing technological advancement. They also support policy-makers and society through evaluations and recommendations.
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence – DFKI
DFKI is the leading research center and is currently, in association with other partners, testing out the very first “Smart Factory” living lab that will serve as a basis for Industry 4.0.
A German research organization that is currently contributing to making Industry 4.0 possible by helping to develop applications and business models for the project.
it's Owl is a science and industrial technology network dealing with advancements in intelligent technological research and is currently the largest Industry 4.0 project.
Platform Industrie 4.0
Platform Industrie is a joint initiative of industry organizations which acts as the contact point for companies and employees. With regard to Industry 4.0, it will serve as the main contact for all matters related to the project.
The SmartFactory KL is a European vendor supporting the development, application, and propagation of innovative automation of technology like in the Industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0 and disruption
The advancement of Industry 4.0 will bring drastic changes to the business and economic industry for the next 10 to 15 years. Development is inevitable. In the short term, certain people will be affected by retrenchment measures. But in the long run, we will see a vast improvement in the way companies function the result of their final output.
Higher quality standards will only see a transformation in industry practices and a boost in consumer demand. A great business strategy for manufacturers not just in Germany, but in other countries to get rid of dated practices and enter a new era of innovation.