As the fourth industrial revolution continues to evolve, we look at five of the most exciting innovations that have emerged.
Designed to drive the world of manufacturing to greater efficiency and transparency, Industry 4.0 will bring radical change to traditional production relationships among suppliers, producers, and customers. With a focus on connectivity, automation, real-time data and machine learning, this digital transformation will completely alter the way that businesses operate.
As the fourth industrial revolution continues to evolve, we look at five of the most exciting innovations that have emerged. While some, including cloud computing and IoT are already prominent in the manufacturing industry, we believe that linking them together will give companies competitive edge.
At the centre of this digitisation is the Internet of Things (IoT). It refers to a network of physical devices that are digitally interconnected through sensors and technology for enriched communication and resourceful exchanges of data through the internet. Consequently, this will help manage decisions and enable real-time responses. It enables another level of automation, with machines being able to make instant decisions based on real-time data.
Augmented reality is essentially coating digital information over the real world. It enables the user to be in contact with both the real and virtual world, whilst receiving real-time data to assist them. It can provide real-time information to technicians about a potential problem with machinery, decreasing the length of downtime and lost production time, which costs UK manufacturers £180bn a year. Another great advantage of AR is the possibility of enhancing industrial training and learning, while reducing risks and costs.
Like any innovative application in Industry 4.0, it allows us to effectively interact with information and creates opportunities to enhance our performance.
With data being generated at a breathtaking pace, there is demand for infrastructure that can competently manage and safely store this data. The cloud platform effectively frees these technologies from the connectivity restraints of on-site servers and ensures processes will function more efficiently, whilst giving companies the benefit of being able to centralise operations, so that information can be shared across an entire organisation.
The landmark ‘industrial cloud’ collaboration between the Volkswagen Group and Amazon Web Services will help to connect the German manufacturer’s global factories, and eventually the supply chain as well.
American philosopher Elbert Hubbard famously declared:
“One machine can do the work of 100 ordinary men, but 100 machines cannot replicate the work of one extraordinary man.”
However, the growing influence of robots cannot be underestimated. They are now a cost-effective solution for many smart organisations as they increase productivity by protecting employees from repetitive, tedious and dangerous tasks. From moving goods around a warehouse to preparing products for shipping, this technology continues to breathe new life into the manufacturing industry.
An influx of advanced robotics is beginning to rise to the fore, capable of performing complex and delicate tasks. Powered by cutting-edge software and sensors, they can recognise, scrutinise and act upon information they receive from their environment.
Digital twin technology can be traced back to NASA when they developed an early digital twin to simulate conditions on Apollo 13. By replicating a near-real-time digital image of a physical object or process, companies will gain foresight of any potential defects in their products and secure a better understanding of its output.
Incorporating technologies including AI and software analytics, the digital counterpart is able to update and change in sync with its physical equivalent.
Industry 4.0 is a force to be reckoned with, ushering in a digital era that will undoubtedly alter our operations, processes, workforce and most importantly - our future.