The term “Industry 4.0” refers to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a concept that has been gaining popularity in recent times. This revolution is characterized by the integration of the physical, digital and biological worlds in the current industries, which can be benefited from it. Because of the technologies involved in the Industry 4.0, the development of a Smart Factory can be possible, and a number of benefits can be unlocked by the implementation of it, from the first small step and then scaling up.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Image retrieved from MathWorks
This revolution is the most recent Industrial Revolution, and it describes the integration of the physical, digital and biological worlds. Some of the technologies included are artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), additive manufacturing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, to name a few.
The technologies from Industry 4.0 are disrupting a number of industries and they have great potential and benefits for the long term: productivity and flexibility will increase,costs of transportation and communication will fall, and the cost of trade will diminish. Bernard Marr complements this explaining that the technologies can “connect billions of more people to the web, drastically improve the efficiency of business and organisations and help regenerate the natural environment through better asset management, potentially even undoing all the damage previous industrial revolutions have caused” (n.d.). In consequence, all of these outcomes will open new markets in the world and drive economic growth.
The Role of 5G
In order to execute the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is crucial to have a reliable and good connection in order to ensure the wireless control of machines. Here, 5G has an important role, enabling the integration and communication between the robots and systems from the area. This technology is characterized for its low latency, high reliability, high throughput, and high speed, features that are key to providing a safe and efficient operation. In addition, 5G’s high connection density allows industries to connect a greater number of devices in the area. Finally, 5G is more flexible than other wired networking systems, which makes it easy for companies to move their machinery, connect self-driving vehicles, etc.
The technologies involved in the Industry 4.0 will contribute to the development of Smart Factories: a place where machines have an insight into the production chain and are able to learn from new conditions and self-adapt to them, perform and make decisions on their own, etc. Through the application of a Smart Factory, companies may achieve a higher asset efficiency, a better product quality, lower costs, and increased safety and sustainability.
According to the research by Burke et al. for Deloitte, the Smart Factory has five key characteristics: connected, optimized, transparent, proactive, and agile. The authors explained how these characteristics favor “greater visibility across their assets and systems, and allow them to navigate some of the challenges faced by more traditional factory structures, ultimately leading to improved productivity and greater responsiveness to fluctuations in supplier and customer conditions” (n.d.)
Implementing the Smart Factory
It is recommended that the implementation of a Smart Factory has to start small and then scale, which means that companies should first focus on the maximization of the activities of a single asset, and then improve the production line, followed by the optimization of the performance of a single plant, and then finalize by maximizing the factory network operations by integrating the entire supply chain and product development cycle.
In the era of Industry 4.0, it is of great importance to have a networking system that is reliable and suitable for the tasks the machines need to conduct. Therefore, the implementation of 5G technology is highly recommended, as 5G would enable enterprises to implement the Smart Factory optimally and technologies to work in a more reliable, efficient, flexible, and safe way.
Burke, R., Hartigan, M., Laaper, S., Mussomeli, A. & Sniderman, B. (n.d.). The Smart Factory. Responsive, Adaptive, Connected Manufacturing. Deloitte University Press. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/us/articles/4051_The-smart-factory/DUP_The-smart-factory.pdf
Chow, W., Geissbauer, R., Khurana, A., Meakin, R., Niebuhr, J. & Pillsbury, S. (n.d.). 5G in Manufacturing. PWC. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/tmt/5g/pwc-5G-in-manufacturing.pdf
Four Industrial Revolutions. (n.d.). [Photograph]. MathWorks. https://ww2.mathworks.cn/en/discovery/industry-4-0.html
IED. (2019, June 30). The 4 Industrial Revolutions. Institute of Entrepreneurship Development. https://ied.eu/project-updates/the-4-industrial-revolutions/
Marr, B. (2018, September 2). What is Industry 4.0? Here’s A Super Easy Explanation For Anyone. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/09/02/what-is-industry-4-0-heres-a-super-easy-explanation-for-anyone/?sh=415defd39788
Marr, B. (n.d.). Why Everyone Must Get Ready For the 4th Industrial Revolution. Bernard Marr & Co. Retrieved August 13, 2021, from https://bernardmarr.com/why-everyone-must-get-ready-for-4th-industrial-revolution/
Sorensen, P. (2021, May 14). What Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution? The 360 Blog from Salesforce. https://www.salesforce.com/blog/what-is-the-fourth-industrial-revolution-4ir/
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