Industry 4.0: The Fourth Industrial Revolution For Digital Manufacturing



Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: June 6, 2019

This is a digital era where we reckon on machines and gadgets for most of our mundane tasks. The advancements in technologies have led to progression in our life thereby making it hassle-free and comfortable.

This technological revolution has impacted almost every sector be it the healthcare sector, consumer sector, finance, media or any other industry. This revolution is gradually penetrating into the manufacturing sector. It is expected that the unleashing of innovative ideas and sophisticated technologies will definitely change the nature of manufacturing.

Today, automation is all the rage. The day-to-day activities of the businesses are automated and then easily monitored as well as managed from devices like smartphones, laptops, etc. The automation or digital revolution has struck the manufacturing sector by storm. It has streamlined the processes, reduced both time and human efforts, minimized errors and enhanced the overall productivity.

From this perspective, digital manufacturing cannot be just considered an advancement in the process of manufacturing but it is rather a transformation. It has transformed almost every single process of manufacturing including research and development, factory procedures, supply chain, marketing, and sales.

What Is Digital Manufacturing?

Digital Manufacturing can be rightly defined as a cohesive approach to manufacturing. It majorly focuses on manufacturing using machines and computer systems. It involves the use of a number of automated tools to simplify, quicken and optimize the processes.

digital manufacturing

However, it is extremely necessary to keep an eye on the tools, the input materials and to use all the machines aptly in order to optimize the various processes of manufacturing.

Digital Manufacturing allows companies to analyze the information, environment, raw materials, and other factors before formulating apposite processes. The process is first created virtually, then its feasibility is analyzed and finally, it is implemented physically.

Therefore, the process can be modified before its implementation to cater to the constrained environment and other factors.

Industry’s Response to Digital Manufacturing

The outspread and usage of information has massively increased in recent times. Both small, as well as large-scale companies, are becoming excited about Digital manufacturing.

The major reasons why companies are embracing or planning to embrace digital manufacturing are:

  • Data storage is inexpensive
  • The stored data is flexible
  • The artificial intelligence and advanced analytics are giving new abilities which will help to draw valuable insights
  • It facilitates the next level interface
  • The use of virtual and augmented reality has optimized the processes

Technologies are affecting our daily lives to a great extent in many ways. We have witnessed a major industrial revolution in the past and now, the commencement of the fourth industrial revolution has begun. It is driven by the emergence of digital and physical technologies that come hand in hand.

What Is Industry 4.0 Revolution?

The latest trend of automation and exchange of data used in manufacturing which includes cyber-physical systems, cloud computing, IoT and other internet features is known as the INDUSTRY 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Industry 4.0 was first proposed by the Government of Germany in 2013. It includes a rich amalgamation of traditional manufacturing processes with state-of-the-art technology. This revolution extends and elaborates the impact of digitalization in many ways.

industry revolution

Cloud computing, IoT and cyber-physical systems are not just the objects which can be termed as enablers but these are the ones which will influence the world and also initiate in changing our behavior. It is predicted that the IoT ecosystem will aid both the consumers and manufacturers by facilitating enhanced communication, improved automation, better monitoring, self-diagnosis, better analysis, and a progressive future.

The machines would have the ability to communicate with one another and the humans; dig valuable insights; and analyze the feasibility of processes, which would lead to seamless processes and spare workers time that they can use for other important tasks.

A number of technologies are emerging day by day which tends to affect our lives. It indicates that we have reached the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution. Therefore, we have to take out some time to understand the kind of technological shifts we are experiencing.

Industrial Revolution

Industrial Revolution refers to a period of economic and social change where a transition is seen from the traditional industrial landscape where uses simple tools and techniques are used to the advanced industrial landscape where cutting-edge technologies are used. It is a transition from old manufacturing practices to new ones.

If we talk about the first industrial revolution, then it was the transference of reliance on animals, use of fossil fuels, biomass and primary source of energy, etc. The second industrial revolution occurred in 19th and the 20th century. This brought development to a great extent in the forms of wireless communication, new forms of power & energy and electricity distribution.

The third industrial revolution started in the 1950s and was based on the rapid advancement of the digital system and computing skills which somehow gave birth to the fourth industrial revolution

The fourth industrial revolution can be appropriately described as the cyber-physical system which involves new capabilities for people and machines. The machines have the power to learn and interact with humans and other machines. However, the intricacy of these advanced technologies and their nature tends to increase our curiosity for various aspects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Most of us are not fully aware of its nature. Also, sometimes it seems to be very threatening. Thus, all the industrial revolutions are constrained due to the choices of the people themselves. The fourth Industrial revolution is the reflection of our desires and not just a strong force.

Principles of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

There are four major principles of the Fourth Industrial Revolution which help in supporting the companies which follow the industry 4.0’s scenario, these are:

1. Information Transparency

Information Transparency is the special ability of an information system with which it creates a virtual or a duplicate copy of the physical world. In this, it enriches the digital plant model by sensor data which requires aggregation of the raw sensor data.

2. Interoperability

The unique ability of communication via IoP i.e. Internet of People and IoT i.e. Internet of Things used by machines and sensors is termed as Interoperability.

3. Decentralized Decisions

Decentralized Decisions is the ability of cyber-physical systems by which they can make their own decisions. These cyber-physical systems have the right to perform their tasks autonomously.

4. Technical Assistance

Technical assistance is the ability of the systems to support humans by visualizing and aggregating information most comprehensively. It also helps in solving problems which are urgent and need to be solved at a very short notice.

Industry 4.0 will affect:

  • Safety of machines.
  • In the industry demonstration
  • The education and the skills of the workers.
  • The value of the industry and supply chain.
  • Continuous productivity and consistency.
  • Socioeconomic factors

Potential Impact of Industry 4.0 Revolution

All the technologies and the systems impact on various industries and it is totally dependent on them whether they’ll advance with the changes or lack behind. Each and every period of disruption has both winner and loser. We still are at the beginning of the fourth revolution and the major three areas of concern are the following:

  1. Identity
  2. Inequality
  3. Security

1. Identity

The Fourth Industrial Revolution affects the network of people. The people nowadays have a dual identity- as an individual and as a member of different communities. The digital media is facilitating the people to form and join different communities and brings people altogether which lead to the formation of new groups in many ways. Also, some connections cross many traditional boundaries and thus increase global interaction.

2. Inequality

The Fourth Revolution is empowering everyone to enjoy all the digital features thereby fostering equality. The richest people of the society making only 1% of the society possess half of the wealth of the states.

It is researched and found that unequal societies tend to have more criminals, more violence, and the number of people with mental illness and most importantly, they have people with lower life expectancies. However, it is a fact that the industrial revolution results in a gain in terms of many things.

A number of tasks like listening songs, watching movies, booking restaurants, new modes of transportations, reading books, making payments, ordering groceries, etc., have become seamless and effortless due to Industrial Revolution.

3. Security

Increase in inequality not only affect mental health but also affects productivity. The global risks report of 2016 when compared and combined with other related aspects of inequality led to only one conclusion, i.e., fragmentation and segregation. These factors create a state of extremism and enable the shifting of power to the non-important and non-state actors.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the only industrial revolution in which the tools and technology can be used aptly and can also be modified. There is an array of robust software like ERP  software that has revolutionized the industry.

How Industry 4.0 Will Transform Businesses?

industry 4.0 revolution

Through the introduction of any new things, especially the cutting-edge technologies can be disruptive for the businesses, but it has become a dire need for the businesses to embrace Industry 4.0 as it’ll keep them alive amidst competition. This revolution will transform business in different ways:

1. Corporate Strategy

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will change the operating nature of businesses. The businesses will focus on adopting the new business model. Many start-ups will continue to foray into the market and the implementation of Industry 4.0 would entail C-level commitment.

2. Improved Operations and Supply Chains

An array of digital tools and cloud-based solutions are already making it easy for the businesses to streamline its operations by facilitating close collaboration. The companies can share data with its employees, customers, partners, suppliers and other stakeholders via cloud-based applications.

An integration of IT (Information Technology) with OT (Operations Technology) is necessary to optimize operation and supply chain management, and Industry 4.0 can instigate the same. It can also boost the level of product life-cycle management.

3. Investment in cutting-edge technology

Most of the companies are focussing on innovative products and are emphasizing on using advanced technology to enhance their competency. The manufacturing companies are reducing their investment in legacy systems and they are investing in digital solutions.

The manufacturers are attempting to adopt Industry 4.0 in their efforts to augment their businesses. This trend will continue with passing years and more manufacturers would invest in ground-breaking tools & technologies.

Industry 4.0 Relationship with Upcoming Manufacturing Trends

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has already taken up its shape and has developed its own theme. Who doesn’t want to work in a workplace which is fully automated where all the machines are interconnected? Such a workplace can definitely be termed as a “smart workplace”.

We can clearly see the growth in the popularity of Industry 4.0 which has been adopted by a large number of manufacturers. According to various researches, it was found that approximately 91 % of manufacturers invest in digitalization. The rapid growth of “Industrial Internet of Things” has clearly marked the beginning and success of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Some Upcoming Trends Related To Industry 4.0 Are As Follows:

industry 4.0 trends

1. Mainstream IoT platforms

Not only small companies but even large-scale companies like Google, Apple, TATA, etc. are making use of IoT technologies.

2. AI will boost quality control

Due to the merging of software and hardware, the functioning and operating of machinery has become easier day by day. However, this also demands a lot of maintenance in return. An AI can not only help in detecting and reporting the need for maintenance, but it also helps in fixing the production problems.

3. The merging of Digital transformation and Industry 4.0

In recent times, more and more companies would transform their administrative process and would love to improve their organization by integrating Industry 4.0 into production.

4. Improved Efficiency

The manufacturers can easily calculate the final price based on the price of machinery. Also, with predictive maintenance, the efficiency of automated machinery has also improved to a great extent.

5. Cybersecurity

Most of the companies who enter the Industry 4.0 will be required to tackle increased security risks. Therefore, it’s high time to look for good security agencies which are specialized in both software and hardware security.

6. Interest in Metal Additive Manufacturing

A number of American companies like LUX, SOSV, True Ventures and many more are still investing in industrial additive manufacturing even when the 3D printing market has suffered a lot of decline in the year 2016. This is because the industrial sector still has a great amount of interest in the additive technologies. Thus, making metal additive manufacturing a reality.

7. The Growth of the Market Exponentially

The Industry 4.0 market’s graph grows exponentially every year. This is because all the large-scale industries are aiming to lean towards B2B startups.

8. Human to Machine Corporation

The advancement in technologies has made everything possible. With augmented reality solutions coupled with the touch interfaces, we have finally reached to the point where we can easily transform the way of working and also change the way workers control and support the machines.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the only thing which emancipates and thrives is mankind. Therefore, we must have the courage of taking in the responsibility, work together with machines and spread awareness to be a part of a fruitful revolution.

We should all take full advantages of the current situation and capitalize the market by getting accustomed to recent technologies. It is true that not all the inventions and the technologies till date have been proved as a boon for the society.

Nevertheless, if shaped properly, then these technologies can act as a catalyst and make us feel as if we are part of something big. These technologies can streamline the processes and improve our lifestyle.

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