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What Is Industry 4.0 and Are You Ready for It?

A term used to describe the growing network of interconnected devices, automated services and big data processing, Industry 4.0 revolves around the concept of “smart factories” that utilize cyber-physical platforms as well as the Internet of Things and the Internet of Services in order to inject day-to-day operations with new innovations and technology.

A Brief History

Originally developed by German developers in 2013, Industrie 4.0, as it’s known in its home country, has already received more than $200 million in capital funding toward governmental, academic and enterprise growth. The concept of Industrie 4.0 has so much potential, however, that interest in the platform quickly spread to other countries.

Professor Doctor Siegfried Russwurm, CTO with Siemens and technical director with Plattform Industrie 4.0, spoke about the German-born initiative as well as the upcoming global standardization. He was quoted as saying: “Collaborating with other initiatives is important, especially for Germany’s export-oriented economy. We are highly interested to cooperate intensively with others in order to pave the way for global standards. Cooperating with IIC – and with other consortia – is an important step in the right direction.”

The U.S.’s Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition, or SMLC, is a nonprofit organization that is promoting Industry 4.0 through their contacts in manufacturing, academia, information technology and more. Their ultimate goal is to increase access to the highly innovative technologies seen in Industry 4.0 throughout the U.S.

Economical Impact

Apart from its focus on interconnectivity and automation in the 21st century, Industry 4.0 also paves the way for environmentally friendly operations and reduced carbon footprints on behalf of companies all around the globe. GE Software, for example, has forecasted a five percent increase in energy efficiency through the use of wind turbines.

In fact, GE has high hopes for the upcoming Industry 4.0. They’ve predicted their software division will be worth an estimated $15 billion within the next five years, which amounts to an increase of nearly $9 billion by the year 2021.

Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE, recently delivered a keynote address where he said, in part, “We totally believe in the transformation of a digital industry, that this will be the next wave of productivity. We need to be at the lead, and we need to provide systems inside for companies and customers. We can only do that if we become faster and more focused on customer outcomes. This really is what our company is all about. As an industrial company, it’s our turn. Technology has created value for tech companies. The consumers have been the beneficiaries of the Internet age.”

Preparing for Industry 4.0

There are a number of steps you can take to prepare for Industry 4.0. Embracing the Internet of Things as well as the Internet of Services is a great start, but you’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the concepts and practices of automation, digitization and big data management in order to ensure your preparedness for Industry 4.0.

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