Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution. You hear about it often, but what does it actually mean? It is a change to the production parameters used up until now or, better still, an inevitable and necessary evolution in the way we manufacture in order to improve quality and working conditions. The fourth major change in the industrial age – known as “revolution” for good reason – is taking place through computerisation and system digitisation.
In fact, Industry 4.0 refers to a new way of conceiving today's industrial systems, a transformation that affects the structure of the industry as a whole. To be 4.0 involves not only individual machines, but the entire factory system.
Innovation, integration, efficiencyTransforming a company into 4.0 involves first of all an in-depth analysis of all aspects of its structures, and of its own needs and goals.
Every business is first and foremost called upon to understand where actions are needed and feasible and, most importantly, how to structure the change towards the digital world internally.
There are three elements in this new way of viewing industry:
- technological innovation, based in particular on a drive towards computerisation that allows close collaboration between all the elements involved in the production process;
- integration between systems, between different parts of the company and between the various components of the entire supply chain;
- efficient energy use, in which consumption reduction is a major consideration.
The data above all
But where to start? Based on the digitisation process, Industry 4.0 requires knowledge and systematic collection of the data produced; all of the data! This means not just the data from the actual production process, but also data, for example, from handling incoming and outgoing goods, or even from management of resources and relationships throughout the supply chain. In essence, any aspect of company life. When properly managed and shared, this massive amount of information – the so-called Big Data – can be used to optimise resources and reduce waste. All of this results in a decrease in material and time losses for the company. It streamlines processes and work flows, making the business more efficient, with cost savings and therefore a financial benefit.
The evolution toward Industry 4.0 also brings new job opportunities. From a professional perspective, over the coming years digitising industries will require specialist professionals with digital skills, figures that did not exist until recently, and greater attention to continual personnel training.