Industry 4.0 has evolved from a disparate set of high-flown ideas around connectivity into a real practice

It goes by many names – Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – but whatever you call it, the idea of connected manufacturing is becoming increasingly pervasive. Indeed, it’s risen to such prominence that 2016’s Hannover Messe, where Industry 4.0 was the central theme, was opened by two of the world’s most powerful leaders – Barack Obama and Angela Merkel.

The pair visited a number of stands demonstrating the latest Industry 4.0 applications for industrial analytics, energy management, predictive maintenance and smart logistics. But what’s interesting to note is that whilst the potential impact of Industry 4.0 is often compared to previous technological leaps forward (mechanisation, electrification, digitalisation), many of the projects use technology that’s already widely available. The difference lies in the problems they’re used to solve, e.g. data-mining, and the problems they create, e.g. cyber security threats. Should we view this as a revolution, or an evolution?

Bosch has achieved a 25% output improvement for its automatic braking system (ABS) and electronic stability programme (EPS) production with the introduction of smart, connected lines
Bosch, one of the companies credited with coining the term Industry 4.0 at the Hannover Messe in 2011, is clear on this. “It’s definitely an evolution,” says Werner Struth, Member of the Board of Management and Industry 4.0 specialist. “That’s an extremely important point.” Industry 4.0, he says, is now a reality that’s built up over the course of recent years, and no longer a disparate set of abstract concepts. There are now several examples of Tier 1s like Bosch co-operating with automotive customers by means of Industry 4.0.Read more