Industry 4.0, IIoT and the Smart Factory
Taking what was started in the Third Industrial Revolution with computers and automation, Industry 4.0 is elevating it with intelligent, autonomous factory systems integrated with each other and with the internet, fuelled by data. This will create what is known as the smart factory, where machines learn and are able to provide accurate real time analytical data that enables educated proactive decisions.
While smart factories, IIoT, machine learning and big data seem futuristic, the reality is that they are here, and development and adoption is accelerating – investment and plans to adopt Industry 4.0 are happening across the globe.
China is one example leading the initiative with “Made in China 2025”; the proposal is to encourage every factory in China to be a smart factory by 2025.
The digital transformation of the supply chain
There are a multitude of factors that are driving this industrial evolution, and the key drivers vary between industry sectors. The growth of e-commerce and omnichannel retail is the main universal driver facilitating the push for a more efficient supply chain.
The demand coming from consumers is putting pressure on every component of the process from sourcing of raw materials, processing, packaging, supply chain and retail to deliver perfect products faster and more efficiently. “While it’s estimated 73% of consumers are omnichannel shoppers, only 42% of supply chain respondents are operating at an omnichannel level.”
However, to be able to operate at this level and fulfil these orders with 100% accuracy requires visibility across the entire supply chain. This is exactly what Industry 4.0 is making possible.
The smarter factory
Consider Apple’s Cloud, Amazon’s Alexa or Microsoft’s Cortana – they’re all smart technologies that have existed for years collecting data about the people using these devices to provide a better user experience. This begs the question: if the technology has existed for so long, why is it only now being utilised?
It’s with the development of device connectivity or cloud-ready devices that this technology is becoming more available to the industrial world. Right now, cloud technology in these industries is still in its infancy but its adoption is accelerating.
“The population of smart factories will increase productivity by 2022 – creating potential contributions between $500 billion and $1.5 trillion globally”
This technology is definitely a disruption to the industry, but in a good way. It’s providing machine builders, service providers, operators, and management have real-time communication with machines to proactively manage the process, providing real benefits to different parts of the business. They can have full visibility of their manufacturing lines from anywhere in the world, giving them immediate accurate data in real time that would have taken days to gather in the past, with differing degrees of accuracy. Having visibility over your devices also means you can better manage your fleet.
While smart factories, IIoT, machine learning and big data seem futuristic, the reality is that they are here, and development and adoption is accelerating – investment and plans to adopt Industry 4.0 are happening across the globe. China is one example leading the initiative with “Made in China 2025”; the proposal is to encourage every factory in China to be a smart factory by 2025.
While the cloud software and dashboards are important, it’s just one part of it; decision makers should be focused on investing in cloud-ready devices, so they are Industry 4.0 ready. From coding and marking to mobile computing and printing, insignia is embracing a broad spectrum of IIoT technology to provide their customers with cloud solutions that offer better visibility over their devices and improved performance.