Industry 4.0 is energizing manufacturers as it transforms the way they produce and distribute their products.
These manufacturers take full advantage of the advanced systems and devices that are the hallmark of Industry 4.0. These include:
- Smart sensors
- Internet of things (IoT) platforms
- Convergence of IT and OT
- Location detection technologies
- Advanced human-machine interfaces
- Aggregated data and predictive analytics
- Advanced visualization
- Wireless and mobile capabilities
- Augmented reality / wearables
As manufacturing facilities undergo digital transformation, they start to become smart factories.
The advanced ability to collect, aggregate, and analyze real-time data leads to process improvements, supply chain control, and better customer service.
Benefits of Industry 4.0
- Increased speed and throughput
- Cost reduction
- Higher profits
- Quality improvements
- Greater worker safety
- Reduced waste
- Improved agility
- Greater customer satisfaction
- Resiliency in the face of disruption.
The benefits of Industry 4.0 are enormous. However, some organizations have not fully realized Industry 4.0. Many are stuck in “pilot purgatory”, that place where companies have started digital transformation but got stuck and were unable to move forward.
This condition develops when a company does not have an Industry 4.0 roadmap that guides them through the different levels of digital transformation.
We call those levels the six stages of Industry 4.0 maturity.
The Six Stages of Industry 4.0
In the first stage, machine control is automated for precision using
devices such as VFDs and PLCs. And while the system can generate
data, there is no digital interface. Because they have no connectivity,
they work on their own, in isolation from other equipment.
Computer-guided machines are now digitally connected to a central
hub/database where data is collected. It’s connectivity, but it’s not
direct or local. As a result, this type of communication is less than
instantaneous and not always helpful. In addition, at this stage
devices such as PLCs, HMIs, IPCs, and IoT appear at the edge.
Because these edge devices are not located within the protective
boundaries of the data center, security issues now become a larger
Organizations create digital systems, which are connected to
everything that happens on the factory floor.
Using an HMI, workers and management can see production at a
glance. Communication between machines is enabled and they
begin to operate and adjust without operator intervention.
Advanced industrial software makes it possible to not only collect
data but to analyze it.
Analysis enables companies to interpret the meaning of data and
understand what that data says about current production.
Industrial Internet of Things software makes it easier to pull
data from machinery and convert that data into information
in real time.
Companies make real-time decisions about maintenance,
efficiency, quality, and resources. Real-time data is used for
predictive and preventive maintenance.
Machines achieve a high degree of autonomy, which enables
them to act proactively and adapt to changing conditions,
maximizing productivity. In this stage, organizations can now fine
tune everything they have installed to this point, and begin to
upgrade legacy equipment, enabling it to digitally connect and
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