The Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, is a term used to describe the introduction of new technologies which facilitate the automation of data collection and analysis. This allows machines to communicate with one another, significantly increasing efficiency and reducing the need for human labour. This revolutionary concept is set to entirely transform the industrial sector, leading to a new and improved intelligent factory.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, otherwise known as Industry 4.0, is the fourth major technological shift in human history. The first industrial revolution began at the end of the 1700s, when water and steam power were used to mechanise production. This was followed by the second industrial revolution at the turn of the twentieth century, when mass manufacturing facilities became electric. In the 1970s, the third industrial revolution saw electronics and IT used for factory automation. We are now in the midst of the Cyber-Physical Systems-based Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The Meaning of “Industry 4.0”
In order to be considered part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, any manufacturing facility or system must possess certain features. These features must be present in order for the facility or system to be classified as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
- Interconnection: Connectivity and communication between objects, machines, and people via the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of People (IoP).
- Disclosure of data: Operators now have access to a vast amount of data due to the open nature of Industry 4.0, enabling them to make informed decisions. By collating large amounts of data and information from all production stages, operators can not only raise their efficiency but also identify any potential problem areas which could be improved or developed.
- Help with the technical: The first advantage of help systems is their ability to enable people to make sound decisions and tackle pressing matters by rapidly collecting and presenting all pertinent information. The second is the capacity of cyber-physical systems to assist people physically by undertaking a range of tasks that would be unpleasant, strenuous, or even hazardous for humans to do.
- Free-Form Decision-making: Autonomy refers to the capacity of cyber-physical systems to act independently, without requiring human intervention. In general, tasks are not delegated to higher levels of authority unless there are exceptional circumstances, obstacles or competing objectives that necessitate doing so.
Industry 4.0 is highly dependent on the utilization of big data and the technologies it allows, such as predictive analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. These technological advancements are driving changes in the production process.
Innovations in Technology Powering Industry 4.0
As we move closer to the Industry 4.0 era, the use of smart factories is rapidly increasing. This is largely due to the advancements in technology such as big data and analytics, the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which have enabled more efficient and cost-effective deployments. This shift towards the use of smart factories is set to continue as technology and data continue to develop.
Use of analytics and big data in the manufacturing sector
Much of the advancement seen in manufacturing technology in recent years can be attributed to the increased availability of data. Companies nowadays have access to vast amounts of information, commonly referred to as ‘big data’. By gathering and analysing this data, businesses are able to help machinery self-configure and diagnose any issues. Predictive maintenance is one of the most beneficial applications of big data.
Predictive maintenance is the practice of utilising past and current data to anticipate future equipment health. Through this process, manufacturing components are able to monitor themselves and alert operators when they detect potential issues. This is a valuable tool in smart industries, as robots can detect problems that may be missed by human eyes.
Due to the emergence of big data, factories are transitioning away from reactive problem solving to proactive problem prevention. This shift is enabled by predictive analytics, which is derived from the data gathered. Ultimately, this approach can lead to reduced downtime and a safer working environment.
Producing food is a good use of predictive analytics.
It can be highly detrimental to a company when production is interrupted, but it can be even more concerning when this happens in the food industry. Not only can faulty equipment lead to contamination of the food supply, but keeping production halted for too long can also cause food spoilage. Unfortunately, this has resulted in numerous recalls of damaged food across the world.
Predictive analytics helps to ensure a safe and secure production environment. By alerting personnel when a component needs to be replaced, downtime is minimised, thus reducing the potential for food spoiling. Furthermore, predictive analytics benefits the environment by lowering food waste and energy consumption as redundant machine repetition is avoided.
Smart factories are revolutionising the way they operate through the integration of various technologies, such as big data and predictive analytics, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT). This ground-breaking innovation is driving the transformation of manufacturing processes by enabling businesses to be more efficient, agile, and competitive.
IoT in connected manufacturing
In order to achieve intelligent manufacturing, the use of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors is essential. These sensors are able to convert physical actions into digital signals, such as infrared heat detectors and vibration detectors. When these signals are passed digitally, the functionality of the assembly line machinery can be determined.
An Infrared Thermal Sensor is able to detect and record heat, making it an invaluable tool for monitoring machinery. If any piece of machinery begins to exceed its optimal temperature, the sensor will send a signal to stop production in order to allow for investigations to be carried out. Vibration Sensors are also useful in the examination of moving elements, such as motors, as they enable the measurement of vibrational and frequency responses.
When it comes to logistics, the Internet of Things (IoT) has a critical role to play. IoT can be used to monitor and replenish stock, as well as to monitor costs and even forecast the future cost of machinery. Energy bills can be a significant expense for factories, but IoT technology can help to reduce energy costs. With the help of IoT, managers can keep a close eye on machinery that is not performing optimally and wasting energy, and then decide whether to replace it.
IoT and AI/ML work hand in hand in the industrial sector.
Robotics and artificial intelligence in automated production
The implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in intelligent industries is becoming increasingly popular due to the advantages it brings for quality control. Manual inspection of products can be prone to human error and, therefore, factories are now turning to AI-based solutions to ensure that their in-process quality checks are accurate. Automatic flaw detection and root cause analysis can now be achieved by using cameras with computer vision algorithms. This means that using AI, anomalies can be identified in a matter of seconds, rather than the hours it would take to detect them using the human eye.
The utilization of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in generative design is a process whereby designers and engineers in the manufacturing sector collaborate to provide design objectives into generative design tools. Cost, production techniques, and material specifications are all taken into account when planning, and the AI-powered software then goes to work and is able to explore every potential outcome. Through the use of machine learning, the programme is able to generate various design variants and choose the most effective one.
All of these advancements in technology, together with Industry 4.0, allow factories to function more safely, more efficiently, and at a lower cost.
Industry 4.0’s Many Perks
The implementation of advanced technologies is always beneficial and has a positive impact. Industry 4.0 has a range of advantages, such as increased productivity per employee, reduced risk of accidents and injuries, and a decrease in overall costs.
Superior upkeep at lower prices
It is understandable that plant owners are enthusiastic about the new Industry 4.0 technology; the cost of bandwidth, data storage, and networking has been decreasing, which has lessened the price tag associated with it. However, if proper maintenance is not undertaken, the productivity of the factory could drop by 20%, and the American manufacturing sector loses over $50 billion every year due to downtime. With the predictive capabilities of Industry 4.0, companies can save time and money while maintaining a high level of output, as they can anticipate when components may fail. This has made machines more reliable overall, and has minimised the costs and disruptions related to maintenance.
The use of data to inform decisions in the manufacturing sector is quickly becoming the norm. By examining hard data, executives can now make more informed decisions and usher in a new era of production choices that are driven by evidence rather than intuition. This data-driven approach to decision-making is transforming the way factories operate, replacing hunches and guesswork with reliable, evidence-based conclusions.
The value of Industry 4.0 has been established; now it’s time to learn how outsourcing contributes to the fourth industrial revolution.
Industry 4.0 and the Importance of Outsourcing
It is anticipated that outsourcing will be a crucial factor in the progression of Industry 4.0. Outsourcing software development offers a number of advantages and is rapidly gaining traction due to the scarcity of qualified programmers and the ever-increasing requirement for their expertise.
Shortage of qualified workers in the Industry 4.0 sector
By the year 2026, the global market for outsourced engineering services is projected to reach a staggering two trillion dollars. Engineers are an integral part of the development of Industry 4.0, yet there is an acute shortage of these professionals. To help meet the demands of this expansion, the world needs to look to outsourcing engineering tasks to organisations and individuals who have the requisite skills and experience.
Advantages of Outsourcing Software Development
The trend of outsourcing is becoming increasingly popular as more and more businesses realise the numerous benefits it can bring. Through the effective utilisation of outsourcing services, companies investing in Industry 4.0 can significantly reduce their logistics costs. Moreover, by utilising outsourcing, the development of Industry 4.0 tools can be achieved at a lower cost than would otherwise be possible.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, presents an unparalleled opportunity for technological progression. By utilising the services of external personnel, organisations have the ability to supplement their technological capabilities with new perspectives and ideas. With the help of a well-trained, experienced development team, businesses can gain the knowledge and expertise to ensure their production requirements are met.
The advent of globalisation has opened up a vast pool of highly competent programmers around the world, indicating that companies involved in Industry 4.0 should broaden their talent search beyond the borders of the United States. In particular, the presence of outsourcing centres in Latin America has made distance a non-issue, allowing businesses to hire developers in the same time zone and thus communicate their requirements more effectively. Consequently, it becomes apparent that outsourcing will be integral to the progress of Industry 4.0, and the potential gains of this endeavour are clear.
Industry 4.0 Investments
An analysis conducted by Accenture determined that the global economy could potentially benefit to the tune of $14.2 trillion by 2035 if Industry 4.0 technologies are implemented. Additionally, Markets & Markets have projected that manufacturers are likely to be investing an average of $74.8 billion every year on smart industrial technologies by 2023. Furthermore, McKinsey has predicted that the annual economic effect of smart manufacturing could reach $3.7 trillion by 2025.
The advancement of technology is paramount in order to enable the development of “smart” manufacturing. The implementation of this technology necessitates the need for highly skilled engineers to ensure its effective application. Outsourcing is an increasingly popular option and its benefits mean that it will play an integral role in the future of engineering.
Industry leaders are looking towards the future with predictions that Industry 5.0 will be highly personalised. This will enable companies to provide bespoke solutions to individual customers. Although we have yet to reach this stage, it is intriguing to consider what role technology will have. Specialised engineers will be essential for both Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0, and outsourcing firms are ahead of the game in recognising the potential of this emerging global pool of skilled individuals.
It is undeniable that Industry 4.0 has numerous advantages and firms are investing heavily in these advancements to gain an advantage and reduce the time it takes to bring products to market. It is widely known that the manufacturing sector will be significantly impacted by big data, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, which is why organisations across the globe are competing to be at the cutting edge of innovation pertaining to this area.