What economists describe as Industry 4.0 is considered to be the fourth industrial revolution; after the mechanical industrialisation in the 18th century (seen as Industry 1.0), the division of labour and mass production of the early 20thcentury (Industry 2.0), and the e-revolution of the late 20thcentury (Industry 3.0), we are now talking about the digitalisation of production systems which will greatly impact our businesses and the way the economy affects people, societies and countries. The development of digitalisation and generalisation of IT now brings together production and network connectivity, enabling “smart” factories, where machines communicate with one another. Businesses can then tailor individual products and services for clients anywhere in the world and clients can user factory settings to create their own products.
Most businesses will need to invest in programmes to prepare for the new economic revolution: businesses need cyber-physical systems (CPS) which connects virtual and physical elements through machine-to-machine communications, IT and a large quantity of data.
A Different Approach to Production
Businesses from heavy industry to manufacturing, hospitality, telecommunications etc. use industrial machines and devices that are becoming ever more intelligent thanks to connection and automation.
The Internet of Things/Services represents a change from a centralised production process to a decentralised smart manufacturing process, thanks to technological advances. This has the ability to connect everything to a network, which enables information from many sources to be stored, transferred, analysed, customised or automated without physical human intervention. Problems can be solved or decisions made from the analysis of data, keeping quality constant and reducing the risk of human error.
Benefits for Businesses
The whole value and production chain will be affected and through it, products and services will benefit from the Internet of Things.
Thanks to cloud computing, companies now are used to increased flexibility and scalability of tasks. Industry 4.0 and the generalisation of connectivity and automation further increase real time decisions and opportunities. The Internet of Things will boost competitiveness, efficiency and ensure sustainable development thanks to technologies.
This new approach to production has already been endorsed by the German government, who are working on a “High Tech Strategy” to prepare the country for this industrial step forward.