What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 refers to interconnection of production steps. This forth industrial revolution includes the digitization and connection of all elements within the supply chain.
The vision of industry 4.0 is a fully automized factory, in which machines, products and customers permanently exchange information. To make this possible, small computer and sensors are incorporated into production robots. These are later interconnected into a cyber physical system (CPS). Additionally, the CPS is connected to the internet, so it can download information and receive inputs. Linked machines then, all-automatically, switch between several tasks and work hand in hand with human mechanics. Cutovers between distinct production tasks run almost in realtime. Thus, production becomes a lot more flexible and efficient. Furthermore you can immediately react to changes within the market or changed customer preferences.
Therefore, industry 4.0 also optimizes the material flow, as the CPS produces and moves material according to demand. This allows a direct advancement of just-in-time manufacturing. Sensors are now able to predict required maintenance themselves. This information is being redirected to the CPS, which then preventively manufactures spare parts and schedules maintenance.
The connection between manufacturing and modern IT is the driving idea behind the forth industrial revolution. However, Industry 4.0 does not only focus on all-automatic factories. In the end, any industry may profit from collecting and analyzing data.