Industry 4.0 refers to a new fourth industrial revolution, but it's more commonly associated with areas that aren't usually classified as industry related, like smart cities. The first industrial revolution was largely the result of the advent of steam power, iron, and water, powered by either wood or coal. Industry 4.0 is the result of the integration of these three very different industrial technologies, into one single platform, often using automation. Industry 4.0 is now transforming cities around the world.
Smart cities refers to those places which have a mixture of industries and service sectors - in other words, they are a cross between an industrial city and a commercial or financial center, and they're rapidly becoming the business and financial center of the Western world. However, just because they're undergoing this transformation, doesn't mean that they're backwards. In fact, industry 4.0 isn't all about technological change - it's about a profound transformation. Industry 4.0 isn't about moving things forward but taking them back - fundamentally rethinking how they work, how they're organized, how they provide value and ultimately why they're built.
The fourth industrial revolution came about because of automation. In manufacturing industry, industrial robots are replacing manual labor and replacing the need for unskilled labor in the manufacturing industry. Industry 4.0 isn't about technology moving forwards, it's about technology moving backwards, and re-designing the production process, processes, tools, and techniques so that manufacturing can be done from premises that previously had to be manufacturing.
This requires an advanced knowledge of manufacturing processes, and knowledge of the business as a whole. It also requires creativity and problem-solving skills. Innovation is also important for industrial manufacturers because the competition is getting more intense every year. Manufacturers need to be better than their competitors and they need to be quicker, better, cheaper and more effective in delivering solutions. An experienced industrial manufacturer has a better chance of achieving these outcomes than a newcomer because the experienced manufacturer knows how to deal with problems, how to come up with innovative solutions, how to cut costs and how to make the best use of all the tools and resources at their disposal.
Another significant change in the industry 4.0 manufacturing process is the adoption of digital transformation. Digital transformation means transforming data in a digital form - in this case, into a machine code. Digital transformation removes the need for duplication or storage of information. Instead, it stores and can be accessed on demand. Industry 4.0 manufacturing will benefit from this change. It's not enough to have a manufacturing process that's efficient - you need to be able to capture all of the relevant data too so that you can make informed decisions about your manufacturing process, materials, and machines.
Industry 4.0 won't be fully realized until the computer-vision system, together with real-time data and artificial intelligence is commonplace in all manufacturing environments. Robotic welding robots combined with smart manufacturing robots, on the other hand, can be an absolutely indispensable part of any manufacturing operation. Industry 4.0 robots and automation will bring about radical changes in industries and it's likely that they will continue to change in the future as well. The most important thing that businesses need to realize is that they need both flexibility and robustness in order to compete in today's markets and to perform efficiently. If an organization can't achieve either of these, it's probably time to look for a different business model.