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Industry 4.0: the fourth industrial revolution

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

Industry 4.0 is the digital transformation of manufacturing/production and related industries and value creation processes.

Industry 4.0 is used interchangeably with the fourth industrial revolution and represents a new stage in the organization and control of the industrial value chain.

Industry 4.0 is the information-intensive transformation of manufacturing (and related industries) in a connected environment of big data, people, processes, services, systems and IoT-enabled industrial assets with the generation, leverage and utilization of actionable data and information as a way and means to realize smart industry and ecosystems of industrial innovation and collaboration.

So, Industry 4.0 is a broad vision with clear frameworks and reference architectures, mainly characterized by the bridging of physical industrial assets and digital technologies in so-called cyber-physical systems.

A key role is indeed played by the Internet of Things or IoT, in the scope of Industry 4.0 Industrial IoT with its many IoT stack components, from IoT platforms to Industrial IoT gateways, devices and much more.

Yet, it’s not just IoT of course: cloud computing (and cloud platforms), big data (advanced data analytics, data lakes, edge intelligence) with (related) artificial intelligence, data analysis, storage and compute power at the edge of networks (edge computing), mobile, data communication/network technologies, changes on the level of, among others, HMI and SCADA, manufacturing execution systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP, becoming i-ERP), programmable logic controllers (PLC), sensors and actuators, MEMS and transducers (sensors again) and innovative data exchange models all play a key role.

Additionally, the same technologies, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), AI (AI engines, machine learning), the meeting of both and so forth that pop up in close to all software areas such as enterprise information management, business process management and applications in the sourcing market are of course showing in IoT-enabled industrial/manufacturing applications and IoT manufacturing platforms as well.

Industry 4.0 is not ‘something’ you realize overnight. Just as is the case with IoT deployments you need a strategic and staged approach.

This is exactly the same as with digital transformation strategy and gets covered in depth when we look at Industry 4.0 strategy and implementation and at the state of Industry 4.0 and maturity of organizations as they move from initial stages and pilots to more innovative approaches on top of the traditional low-hanging fruit in terms of optimization and automation. If you are in a hurry, there is a chapter on Industry 4.0 maturity models and roadmaps.

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