Does it all still sound a little fuzzy? A study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG)1 identifies nine basic areas that define the parameters of Industry 4.0:
Big data and analytics – Tons of data on product specifications, development and production can be easily accessed and will be used to make quick changes. That is made possible by…
The cloud – Of course, companies are already using cloud-based software. But 4.0 will allow for information sharing across both internal and external sites in milliseconds, including the systems that monitor and control industrial processes.
Autonomous robots – They will interact with one another, play nicely with humans, and be able to do more things. They’ll also be cheaper.
3-D simulation – Sophisticated simulation systems will use real-time data for modelling, leading to faster, better targeted innovation.
System integration – Companies, departments, functions and capabilities will all be linked through data networks.
Internet of Things – Products on the assembly line will contain information telling the machines making them what to do.
Augmented reality – Workers will receive real-time instructions while repairing parts through Google Glass-type technology. This technology will also be used for training.
Additive manufacturing – 3-D printing will enable manufacturers to produce small batches of customized products, reducing shipping costs and inventory stockpiles.
Cybersecurity – With all systems connected, threats will dramatically increase, creating a need to develop more sophisticated security systems.