The concept of industry 4.0 is now in vogue, as a cursory glance around the internet will tell you.
In this period of economic slowdown, every country wants to climb onto the industry 4.0 bandwagon as they see it as a catalyst and something that can spark the recovery of industry.
- In Germany, the “Industry 4.0“ project is an ambitious plan for taking advantage of the digital revolution and the “Internet of Things” applied to industry. 200 M€ /year.
- The United Kingdom has launched the “Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative“, which involves investing decisively into R&D and training as well as opening “High-Value Manufacturing Catapult” centres. Over 200 M€ for its launch.
- The French initiative for factories of the future includes an ambitious programme with “34 initiatives for reindustrialising high technology“ 3.7B€ over 10 years, 370M€ per year.
- Over in the USA, Barack Obama launched the “Advanced Manufacturing Partnership“ in 2011. In 2012, he announced that $2.2 billion would be invested into R&D related to advanced manufacturing and a further $1 billion would be spent on creating a “National Network of Manufacturing Innovation“
- Over Basque Country through the SPRI Group (the Basque business development agency which has links to the Basque Government’s Department of Finance and Competitiveness), the Basque Government has brought “Basque Industry 4.0” – their commitment to Advanced Manufacturing – to life by launching three new programmes. These are designed to help implement electronic, information and communication technologies within the manufacturing industry, SMEs and the business world in general, and to support projects that transfer technology. The three programmes (Basque Industry 4.0, Industria Digitala and Lankidetza Digitala) have a total budget of 5.2 M€.
However, getting to grips with Industry 4.0 is not easy and the concept can often be a source of controversy.
One particular definition could be “a series of technologies which make smart factories possible”. These could in turn be defined as factories where the real world and the virtual world come together via communication technologies with the goal of controlling the manufacturing process over the Internet.
Many of these technologies are not new and have been around for a long time in the world of industrial automation. What makes this change truly groundbreaking is the fact that different devices communicate themselves, simply by virtue of the equipment being connected to the Internet.
If we accept that the i
nternet itself is an established revolution, we can begin to understand why this has been called the fourth industrial revolution. Objects, machines and automation processes will all be connected to each other and to us in the same way that humans communicate with each other today.
One critical concept in this regard is undoubtedly “data”. Data management, knowledge of manufacturing processes, the ability to distinguish what is truly important and the intelligence to inject the changes and improvements in real time are the challenges which lie ahead.
Some have compared it to a Formula 1 race, where the engineers from every team go to great lengths to obtain thousands of pieces of telemetry data relating to the cars so that they can modify their mechanics and make them faster than the rest.
At IKOR, we believe that it is not an established reality but a new milestone in industrial development, and this is why we are actively working in two areas:
- The effect on our own manufacturing resources, which is why we are implementing metaphysical resources to connect our manufacturing machinery to a BIG DATA system.
- The area of R&D, where we are focusing our research and training work on technologies which are becoming more important in industry 4.0
This is not science fiction – the technology is in our hands. Would you know what to do with it?