What is Industry 4.0?


By Paul Garcia - Marketing Content Specialist at Code.

A look at how barcode scanning supports modern industry.

AI, AR, and VR, oh my! Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry faster than you can tap your heels together three times. In this blog post, you’ll learn how Code Corporation’s innovative barcode scanning technology supports modern industry. But before we dive into barcode scanner details, let’s zoom out and grasp the big picture.

Is 4 more—what is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 refers to the prospering fourth industrial revolution, a movement currently molding how companies produce, refine, and distribute their products. Within industrial circles, Industry 4.0 is commonly referred to as I4.0; many commercial and academic researchers also call it 4IR.

Our world’s interconnectedness is advancing rapidly, challenging all businesses to hustle and perform constant innovation. As a result, manufacturers mustintegrate innovative technologies (like smart automation, artificial intelligence [AI], cloud computing, virtual reality [VR], and the Industrial Internet of Things [IIoT]) into their business processes. Doing so keeps manufacturers (and their products/brands) relevant while ultimately benefitting consumers with high-quality, desirable products.

The fourth industrial revolution began as a strategic plan to combine industry and science in Germany in 2006. Since its inception, the fourth industrial revolution has transformed manufacturing processes into intelligent environments. Previous industrial revolutions comprised the development of the following technologies:

  • Industry 1.0 - Production mechanization through water and steam power (1784, the first mechanical loom)
  • Industry 2.0 - Mass production through assembly lines and electricity (1870, the first assembly lines)
  • Industry 3.0 - Digitalization through computers and automation (1969, the first Programmable Logic Controller [PLC]).

Today, Industry 4.0 leverages the third revolution’s technologies, i.e., PLCs and I/O systems, and enhances them with smart cyber-physical systems and advanced automation. These concepts are applied across all industrial companies, including discrete and process manufacturers.

  • Discrete manufacturers create or assemble distinct (and countable) finished goods from components or materials—Code Corp and its barcode readers are a prime example.
  • Process manufacturers use formulas to combine raw materials into bulk goods like soda.

The current emphasis on automating manual processes has reduced manufacturing-related issues, leading to error-free designs and higher-quality products. Additionally, the machine learning algorithms that aid our barcode readers' production, powering, and distribution contain comprehensive, real-time information. This wealth of data allows for early error detection, increased availability of raw materials, and greater control over the production process. After production, the highest quality barcode readers and data capture hardware on the market greets our customers. Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) allows for the transition from mass production to Lot Size One opportunities and cost-effective manufacturing.

4 = 1: Industry 4.0 leads to Lot Size One opportunities

While mass production was the key ingredient of Industry 2.0, this new technological era we are currently in allows for the exact opposite: Lot Size One. Previously the domain of luxury brands, Lot Size One refers to single-item production and enables the buyer to customize an individual product to ideal specifications. Mass production, on the other hand, gives manufacturers all the decision-making power. However, the concept of Lot Size One is opportunistic because it provides power to the consumer and saves manufacturers a great deal of time and money.

Asynchronous manufacturing utilizes AIDC to customize each step of the production process. The IIoT, like data capture technology, is an integral driver of the I4.0 advancements consumers see within end products created as a custom “batch of one.” Code’s barcode readers and barcode scanning software are known for their high-performance AIDC capabilities that help make advanced manufacturing possible. In fact, Code’s devices and software can scan DPM (direct part mark/ing) barcodes etched in metal or glass, as well as damaged, torn, or soiled barcodes. Aggressive data capture enables machines to flexibly recognize components and adjust production accordingly. This adaptability would not be possible in a synchronous mass production setting with predetermined workflows.

Benefits of Lot Size One benefits include:

  • Customizable production that significantly reduces inventory throughout the supply chain.
  • Saved capital that can be spent on productively manufacturing one specific product for one specific customer.
  • Agile production, wherein various products are produced within one factory.
  • Lot Size One eliminates costly, unplanned downtime and provides greater uptime and availability to manufacturers and customers.

Foresight: How barcode scanning improves throughput, efficiency, and visibility

Industry revolves around mass data collection from sensors and physical barcodes, as well as real-time visibility in factory environments. Data capture has tremendous benefits, such as enabling the performance of predictive maintenance to increase equipment efficiency and prevent outages or downtime.

The digitization of manufacturing systems has also led to a streamlined interconnectedness with operational data from other business sectors. This creates the greater visibility of a broader range of information that couldn’t be collected before conceptualizing these technologies.

Mobile Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), the integration of physical and computing systems, are a prime example of interconnectedness. As key components of I4.0, mobile CPS represent the integration of physical and computing systems. A great illustration of this at work is Code’s CortexDecoder Software Development Kit (SDK) running on a smartphone app. Upon scanning a barcode, this smartphone triggers the action (or inaction) of a robotic component linked to the same app.

Code’s barcode scanning CortexDecoder SDK further bolsters advanced manufacturing by enabling camera-equipped devices to decode barcode types and barcodes printed on different materials that other scanning software can’t. In addition to industry-leading scan rates, smart sensors within Code’s barcode readers provide motion-sensing for automatic scanning when in presentation mode.

Moreover, both Code’s hardware and software offer industry-leading scan rates and advanced barcode symbology support—all of Code’s hardware and software can decode 40+ barcode symbologies more accurately and quickly than our competitors.

Forging ahead: Where do barcode scanners fit in within Industry 4.0?

Now that you’re aware of the big-picture effects of I4.0 on the manufacturing industry, let's dive into tangible examples of how Code’s barcode scanning technology aligns with the vast wealth of data available.

Fortifying traceability: Code, the world’s smallest DPMs, and product safety

Traceability means backtracking to the origin of a product’s components, and this capability is an integral piece of manufacturing. Upon discovering a production error or flaw in the design, manufacturers must perform costly recalls to repair the product or refund customers.

Denmark-based Rel8 created imZERT, a proprietary DPM (Direct Part Marking) process that can address the traceability issues confronting discrete and process manufacturers. This revolutionary technology stands out because it maximizes traceability via 1mm2 DPM barcodes (the world's smallest) that are made from nanostructures!

This process occurs through engraving DPM barcodes into a mold by pressing sharp, high-contrast 2D barcodes into the component’s surface. Once scanned, the DPMs disclose essential production data for tracking parts or ingredients.

So, what does this I4.0 tech have to do with Code? Rel8 discovered that most barcode scanners could not readily scan imZERT’s minuscule barcodes. However, they found that Code’s CortexDecoder can effortlessly decode their barcodes with industry-leading accuracy via smartphone and a common macro-lens.

Foresee it all: AR app uses barcode scanning for business breakthrough

Augmented Reality (AR) is an Industry 4.0 concept that Code’s CortexDecoder SDK readily supports. German software company P4IT uses the CaptureID mobile app to pair the humble barcode with futuristic AR. You can transform your smartphone’s camera into an intelligent business tool by scanning a barcode with CaptureID.

An impressive data overlay will pop up on your screen, displaying real-time information like inventory data, delivery instructions, service history, production errors, and product details.

Forward-looking: Barcode scanning for smart glasses 

The Iristick.G2 is another innovative example that offers remote assistance via video conferencing from the wearers’ perspective. These internationally certified smart safety glasses are equipped with a camera that has an extended field of view, optical zoom, and a barcode scanner for a hands-free approach to accessing and sharing information. Simply put on your glasses, scan a barcode, and send/receive repair instructions with colleagues miles away! Moreover, thanks to CortexDecoder’s aggressive barcode scanning, G2 offers hands-free, Pick-by-Vision capabilities, making it the first choice in logistics.

Fortune teller: improving revenue via offline barcode scanning

Finland’s Bluugo is an innovative Software as a Service (SaaS) Tracking Cloud platform that digitizes companies’ products and services while connecting suppliers and stakeholders in one space. With 24/7 visibility, Tracking Cloud is the ultimate transparent platform for communication and data collection. Bluugo discovered that Code’s CortexDecoder software has a unique offline barcode scanning capability that has taken Tracking Cloud to a new level that outperforms its competitors.

You can utilize Code’s offline feature in areas with poor service and then rely on automatic synchronization with Tracking Cloud as soon as the network is available. Offline scanning, Bluugo users found, isn’t just helpful for tracking the service/maintenance of distributed assets, it’s also beneficial for optimizing equipment rentals. Offline scanning also expands Tracking Cloud’s use into air-gapped places, like nuclear plants, where mobile devices are forbidden from “calling home.”

These innovative technologies and their benefits wouldn't be possible without manufacturers' willingness to coincide with the ever-advancing industrial revolutions. Visit each use case example above to further explore how Code fits into an industrial context and remains competitive amongst constant change.

Gimme 5: data capture in Industry 5.0?

Industry 4.0 has yielded tremendous benefits thanks to the advent of PLCs, aggressive data capture, and enterprising firms. With manufacturing improving, performing, and perfecting thanks to Industry 4.0 (and barcode scanners), industry groups are imagining what the fifth industrial revolution might be. The early consensus points to a human-centric focus that tightly integrates humans, robots, and IoT devices for closer cooperation. Industry analysts also believe that Industry 5.0 will place a greater emphasis on societal good and sustainability. No matter how the next industrial revolution materializes, count on barcodes and Code’s data capture technology to be its building blocks.

Need further insight into how barcode readers and data capture software can enhance your processes or product? Code’s TAM- and EMEA-based experts will help you select the right AIDC solution for you. Contact us at at info@codecorp.com or 801-495-2200.

Add a Comment

No messages on this article yet

Editorial: +44 (0)1892 536363
Publisher: +44 (0)208 440 0372
Subscribe FREE to the weekly E-newsletter