Industry 4.0: a tailored overview for business leaders

Jun 27, 2018

Industry 4.0 might be a relatively familiar concept for most industries, but the specifics can be quite complex – especially when searching for automation solutions for your unique business case. Alexander Naessens, one of our experts, explores some of the business impacts of Industry 4.0 technologies and discusses challenges and opportunities.

The 4 axes of Industry 4.0

According to Alexander, Industry 4.0 has four main axes: vertical integration, horizontal integration, lifecycle management and Work 4.0.

Vertical integration is all about the networking within the factory, such as through automation devices or services. Important to highlight in Industry 4.0 is the involvement of the ‘connected’ product or workpiece,” he explains. “Similarly, horizontal integration involves connectivity and information flow across an entire supply chain, from raw material producer to end consumer. Added value networks, extending beyond individual factory locations and facilitating the dynamic creation of such added value networks are key.

“The lifecycle management axis has to do with connectivity throughout the entire product lifecycle, ensuring that data created is kept consistent within the entire value stream and can be accessed at all times. The end goal of this aspect is to optimize engineering in order to integrate new functionalities into the product as rapidly as possible.”

However, it’s the 4th dimension, the human dimension (also known as Work 4.0), with the worker in the role of the knowledge/experience carrier, decision-maker and coordinator, that has potential to generate the highest returns if companies get it right. “It’s all about the symbiosis between humans, automated systems and robotics in the production ecosystem.” Sign up for our CIO CONNECT newsletter with trends and customer stories.

The rise of data-driven manufacturing

The history of the future of Industry 4.0 is more than a vision. delaware helps its customers shape their Industry 4.0 future based on data and changes in customer demand. 

“In fact, Industry 4.0 represents a shift in the way companies gather, use, process and leverage data and data insights. We are moving from a product-oriented to a data-driven manufacturing process.”

One of the biggest challenges of data-driven manufacturing is the need for security. For example, in an adaptive supply chain, it’s possible to quickly outsource activities to where the knowledge is, for huge efficiency gains – but it’s crucial to establish trust and transparency between all parties along the supply chain to succeed. “The issue of security was always important, but it will become even more important in the next few years,” Alexander asserts.

Industry 4.0: a world of opportunities

Your Industry 4.0 landscape depends on your business case

Speaking of the future of Industry 4.0, new uses of existing technologies are emerging at lightning speed. For example, edge computing is an area currently in heavy development. Traditional cloud computing methods capture process data from machines, transfer it to the cloud and store it in huge databases. Big data analytics algorithms are then applied to the data remotely, delivering business insights later.

“By contrast, edge computing brings the analytics algorithms where they have the biggest impacts – as close to production as possible,” Alexander says. “For example, a factory worker could run algorithms on their smart device and use the insights to make smart decisions on the spot, a.k.a. on the ‘edge’.”

When companies begin to invest in Industry 4.0-related technology, it’s not just a production or efficiency choice – it’s necessary to meet new customer demands. It all starts with the reviewing the business model from an I4.0 perspective. Industry 4.0 can unlock unprecedented performance improvements for industrial manufacturers.

“Businesses are seeking clarification from us, especially in terms of what Industry 4.0 is all about for their specific business. It’s such a general term with such broad applications, and it touches almost every trending topic and technology today,” Alexander asserts.

Are you ready to discover which Industry 4.0 technologies could take your business to the cutting edge? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experts.

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