The Top 6 Innovations in Industry 4.0

Smart Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0, also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is everything about making business smarter and more automated. Where the Third Industrial Revolution focused on switching mechanical and analog processes to digital solutions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution focuses on deepening the impact of our digital transformation technologies by making our machines more self-sufficient, able to “communicate” with one another, enabling data exchange, and thereby read massive amounts of data in ways that humans can’t—all in the name of efficiency and growth. Industry 4.0 technology represents a foundational shift in how businesses’ manufacturing technologies operate, as fundamental as the change from steam power to electricity in the Second Industrial Revolution, and way ahead of the first industrial revolution.

Thanks to customer demands, the fourth industrial revolution is bringing about massive changes in business models and the way that businesses operate. Manufacturing processes are becoming more efficient and automated, and data is being collected and analysed to help improve decision-making.

How is Industry 4.0 Technology Revolutionizing the Manufacturing Industry?

The future of smart manufacturing is now. The fourth industrial revolution era has arrived and it’s bringing with it new opportunities for planners, designers, and engineers—everyone involved in the process from planning all the way to delivering products or services! This revolutionary shift towards “ Intelligent Automation” will not only revolutionize how we make things but also change who does so as well: robotics could double up like humans, while artificial intelligence could take over many tedious manual tasks (such as inventory management).

Industry 4.0 presupposes the integration of manufacturing automation and data exchange to encourage innovations and the set up of a smart factory. A smart factory is controlled by a virtual production line that runs systems and monitors and completes their physical processes.

In this blog post, we will discuss six of the top innovations that are happening as a result of Industry 4.0. Are you ready for the future-ready factory?

Innovations in Industry 4.0

Industrial Internet of Things (IoT)

The first innovation that we will discuss is the industrial internet of things (IoT). The industrial internet of things refers to the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items that are connected to the internet. These devices are able to collect and exchange data. The IoT is revolutionizing smart manufacturing by making it possible for smart factories to be more connected.

Small industrial internet of things (IoT) sensors are being deployed in businesses to monitor data about the things that go on around them. These can be anything from lights, heating ventilation air conditioning (HVAC), smart factory floor machinery or even inventory management systems or supply chain management – no matter what it is they provide insight for better decision making within an organization. With many levels being monitored by one system with computing capabilities connected remotely via internet connection there will always have been never before seen opportunities when combined together.

A good example of the industrial internet of things in the manufacturing industry involves resolving bottlenecks and driving mass production throughput. If smart machines on a production floor have an industrial internet of things (IIoT) device connected to them to monitor industrial production efficiency, usage, uptime, etc., then this data can be used along with a machine-learning algorithm. This identifies the exact machinery piece that presents the highest priority bottleneck as well as how to fix it. Does the machine require an upgrade? Or does it just needs to be used more frequently during the day?

Industrial Robots

The future of smart manufacturing is now a reality. Autonomous robots are extremely smart machines with the ability to complete tasks on their own, without any need for human interaction or guidance whatsoever! These innovative devices can work quickly and accurately in environments where there might otherwise be downtime because they have become so efficient at what they do.

Autonomous robots are used in manufacturing to hold and carry heavy items on a production line. This helps to prevent human injury for welding, assembly, and palletization. Autonomous robots are also great at order picking at the warehouse level because of their ability to quickly analyse and choose the most efficient route to pick items – even for multiple orders. They can also be used for continuous production without any pause.

Digital Twins

Digital twins are the digital transformation based representation of an object, concept or area in a 3D space. They can include all physical assets including operational systems and structures within one facility as well any data input into it so that its performance may be observed by others who have access to this software through their own devices.

With the use of industrial IoT sensors, a manufacturing company can now monitor their entire shop floor in virtual space. Real-time status reports on the predictive maintenance needs of equipment and even what’s happening inside machines that would be dangerous or costly for workers physically present at the site, can be obtained. Manufacturers can train employees remotely before sending them out into an unknown environment where they will make real-world repairs using only digital twins as guides.

Big Data refers to huge volumes of manufacturing or other data. With smart machines in the driving seat, the picture is totally different. With advanced computing capabilities, these huge streams of data can be translated into accurate, actionable insights to aid in decision-making for manufacturing leaders. Data sources can include IoT sensors on factory floors and lighting systems to sales information or supply chain-related parameters such as weather and political climate. Big data underpins much of the other technology of Industry 4.0. 

Big Data and Analytics

Picture this: There’s a shop floor somewhere in Pennsylvania that has an IoT sensor connected to every machine in the smart factories. This sensor constantly logs and analyzes information both at the sensor site as well as in the Cloud. All the data from this little IoT sensor, including information like how much the machine has been used, is collected and fed into a machine learning algorithm. The algorithm is capable of providing valuable information such as – “This machine’s belt is likely to break in 2 weeks”. With this crucial data, predictive maintenance can be scheduled during non-working hours so that the issue is fixed and the machine’s efficiency does not get affected during production hours.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are driving innovations across industries and manufacturing. AI-specific hardware and new algorithms are being developed to optimize existing systems and tackle new challenges faced by manufacturers. Smart factories are increasingly integrating artificial intelligence across their production systems or business processes. Advanced artificial intelligence makes it possible to conduct predictive maintenance, cognitive computing, swarm intelligence, context-aware computing, smart factories, hardware accelerators, and generative design. All of these technologies propel manufacturing facilities to move towards complete lights-out manufacturing.

With the aid of AI-powered platforms, smart factories can now streamline production and increase efficiency in a more effective way than before. These cloud-based smart and autonomous systems integrate machine data from different stages within industrial facilities such as design or supply chain with an eye on improving overall productivity over time through critical insights continuously derived by AI learning.

Human Augmentation & Extended Reality

The physical and cognitive augmentation of humans is another major innovation of industry 4.0. Human limitations are augmented using technologies such as wearables and exoskeletons. Further, industrial mobile devices, natural and intuitive UI, and portable machine control screens ease the use of such technology. XR technologies like mixed reality (MR), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) are already in use in the manufacturing industry from research and development (R&D) to full-scale production and post-production processes. This multi-experience paradigm is changing the face of industrial manufacturing such that human-machine interaction is aligned more toward machine-enabled workers.

Companies with a clear innovation edge featuring flexible and agile processes towards digital transformation will be the ones to succeed in this ever-changing world. The future is set to witness even more breath-taking technological disruptions, as research around the industrial internet of things (IIOT), nanotechnology and analytics will start to impact numerous manufacturing applications. Product and process innovation have been shaping manufacturing already for decades – which means tomorrow’s success lies within those companies that can adapt most easily.