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INDUSTRY 4.0 …… The Next Industrial Revolution

Industry 4.0 is now deemed the next Industrial revolution and is facilitating what some are calling the Age of Technological Disruption. This is being driven by the emergence of new advanced technologies generating new forms of innovation and industrial disruption.

In the last, the 3rd industrial revolution (from 1970 until now) we have added significant computerization to our manufacturing and business processes.

But we still have many environments in industry where humans are trapped as the prime interface between our processes and the computer using keyboards and bar codes and primitive scanners

This has so far made us slaves to the computer.

In INDUSTRY 4.0 we will employ Cyber-Physical Systems that will eliminate the human interface with sensors and smarter systems… so we then will have the “Computers working for us …. NOT us for the computers”

So, these Cyber-Physical Systems will eliminate the burden of managing computers by humans and allow direct linkage between the computers and the process.

A Cyber-physical system uses “SMART” Connectivity, Sensor Technology, and advanced computer networks, to place computers much more directly and seamlessly into our processes so we can eliminate transactional waste and solve some of the major interface issues between computers and process management. This will also allow us to redeploy human skills much more toward improving our processes and further evolving how we do business and how to better satisfy our customers.

It will enable the “Smart Factory” concept to be conceived and start us on a journey toward a new factory of the future using new and disruptive technologies that will drive the next industrial revolution many are now calling INDUSTRY 4.0

These Disruptive Technologies such as cyber physical systems, advanced robotics, smart sensors, Big data, The Industrial Internet of things (IIOT), and Additive Manufacturing/3D printing will all impact and participate to improve future business operating processes.

A recent industrial study indicates that 70% of business leaders in North America are looking at how to embrace the INDUSTRY 4.0 environment, and are revisiting both Continuous Improvement (CI) and Disruptive Technologies as strategic differentiators.

The goal is to further improve operating processes and better harmonize future products and processes to achieve more integrated, waste free and sustainable products, processes and services to meet customer expectations.

The application of INDUSTRY 4.0 and these disruptive technologies has a global current market size specific to the manufacturing industry of about $3.9 Trillion and is rapidly growing with investments predicted to exceed $60 trillion during the next 15 years.

Advanced Manufacturing has been a continuum but the integration of these new disruptive technologies constitutes a near perfect storm to change the face of business industry and manufacturing into the next decade.

3D printers now becoming highly capable in both plastic and metal is driving change in how and where manufacturing will be undertaken, and is providing many opportunities for both Rapid prototyping and hi performance tooling strategies to re-life traditional industries and breed new industries.

New printable materials in composites and food materials as well as bone and organ building blocks will take this technology into many sectors that will touch the population far more directly and at the point of use than traditional manufacturing. It will aid the thought process of manufacturing being more effective when it is local to the customer.

Advanced Robotics means linking traditional computerized machine and automation technology with smart sensor systems and we are witnessing this technology growth as defined by the upturn in the shipments of industrial robots of all types.

These smart sensor systems are being described as “Cyber Physical Systems” because they place the computer power even more in control of the process without human intervention and solve some of the major interface issues between computers and process management. These systems using networking technologies, sensors and using connected computing devices with integrated analytics has tremendous possibilities of effectively and cost efficiently managing a broad scope of physical assets, such as buildings, vehicles, machinery, equipment and inventory.

Computer technology in the last few years has taken a huge leap forward in terms of computing power measured in operations per second and operate upon enough massive multiple algorithms much faster than human thought with almost the same level of complex logic and decision capability. This will generate enough information density and complex algorithm management to become a form of artificial intelligence.

This improved computing power will also enable computing systems to handle what some are calling “Big Data” such that everything we want to know about a subject or event can be stored as a complete body of knowledge and used at will.

Although the technical term is “connectivity” the general public is embracing the Internet of Things and its industrial version the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

This is suggesting that devices and therefore the knowledge they carry will be “connected” more than ever before…

Again, it’s about information and knowledge at the point of use in real time…

The other disruptor is the “globalization of Ideas” via collaborative and connected platforms that allow remote interaction and is breeding a cloud based mentality and crowd sharing of resources/skills/knowledge and funds in a very interactive manner. The control of Intellectual Property may become an issue, but in principal the globalization of ideas is far more sustainable than the globalization of manufacturing and materials.

In principal Industry 3.0 was taking a factory and adding computers to improve automation and control… but the interface with computers has been a challenge…. Now with smart sensors and improved computing power and new processes that are inherently more computer driven we can better connect the computers and the process together without human interfaces or intervention.

Such dreams of autonomously self-guiding vehicles and processes that use sensors to eliminate transactions will allow factory designers to take the whole business process to the next level…

Much discussion is now under way that predicts that manufacturing certainly when re-capitalized will be geographically closer to the customer with much shorter supply chains and may also be organized into industrial clusters within a certain trade bloc.

So, these technological disruptors are now leveling the manufacturing playing field between so called low cost labor countries and mature or developed countries, where serving the local customer in the most sustainable manner is the most important value proposition. When the labor component is removed through INDUSTRY 4.0 any advantage of low cost labor is far less important. The real drivers for success will be how close you can get to the customers demand and how LEAN and GREEN is the business process.

For some of us this has been a long journey from the start of INDUSTRY 3.0 when we first started to use computers in manufacturing in the mid-1960s.

For most of us it will still be … are we there yet?

We have a few leaders in the Canadian Industrial community that are worth a mention and watch.as we develop our factories of the future….

Peytec Inc at www.peytec.com has developed a range of Cyber Physical readers and smart tags that can accurately manage position and analytics through a wide range of integrated sensors that will eliminate the need for operating transactions in all forms,

MEMEX at www.memex.ca offers a sophisticated work-cell data management system that provides a complete computerized solution for monitoring and improving work-cell OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness)

Westburne Electric www.westburne.ca has assembled a complete partner team of IIOT/Cyber Physical experts and will be offering an Industry 4.0 readiness survey to its manufacturing clients to support the journey to the factory of the future.


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