By Razor CEO, Jamie Hinton
Everyone wants to talk about industry 4.0, from industry conferences and magazines through to boardroom tables and shareholder meetings, it’s top of the agenda.
The thinking around industry 4.0 was based on the complete automation of manufacturing facilities using vast amounts of data, robotics, AI and machine learning. It refers to a fourth industrial revolution, focusing on the digitisation and networking of new technologies to create value.
The previous three revolutions were based on groundbreaking new technology, from steam power to the widespread availability of electricity to run mass assembly lines and even the microprocessor. Each of these technologies spawned new and imaginative business models. But what’s happening today isn’t industry 4.0 - it’s an evolution of the digital revolution that started in the 1950s.
Talk of industry 4.0 has been useful in helping businesses understand the value of industrial automation and connectivity. Advanced digital technology is being used in manufacturing, but where we are in manufacturing today is applying incremental changes over time, using existing technologies to improve the process, increase quality and reduce cost. There are still a few missing ingredients required to end the evolution and create the next revolution.
When the revolution does arrive, it will not just connect a single manufacturing facility, but the entire manufacturing value chain. The ability to instantly analyse large amounts of data will connect dots across the entire value chain, from suppliers to consumers. Data on how, when, where and why a product is consumed will be communicated back through every part of the value chain and influence every decision in the manufacturing process, automatically.
While the hype of industry 4.0 has helped light a spark that’s driving the world towards industrial connectivity, a grounded and truly integrated approach is essential to getting the most value out of things such as remote maintenance and predictive analysis in the interim.