Industry 4.0 and Its Impact on EHSQ

Industry 4.0

During the Industrial Revolution

There have been many transitions from hand to machine production, which has not only simplified tasks, but also increased efficiency in production. Then came the digital era where electronics and computers were used to automate industries to improve efficiency and increase the speed of production. Thanks to fast-evolving technology, today we have Industry 4.0. What is Industry 4.0, you ask? It’s not just a futuristic buzzword. It is expected to revolutionize industry production.

Industry 4.0 is the new phase of the industrial revolution, involving advanced manufacturing techniques and the Internet of Things (IoT) coming together to create a “smart factory.” IoT is a system where computing devices connect to the internet, enabling them to transfer data with little human input. Thanks to the growth and popularity of IoT, many factories around the world are becoming interconnected as cyber-physical systems communicate and interact with each other and humans in real time via the web.

Smart Factory for Smart Growth

A smart factory is where cyber-physical systems collaborate with each other and monitor physical processes of a factory to make decentralized decisions. Originally introduced in Germany, the smart factory has led to significant reduction of downtime and wastage bringing in quality and efficiency in factory production. Think of it as doing more with less. Industry 4.0 brings in a new era of increased connectivity by implementing the smart factory. With the use of smart and autonomous technology, Industry 4.0 aims to connect computer devices with physical actions to enable advanced manufacturing.

Industry 4.0 combines the use of IoT with physical technologies, analytics, robotics, artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies to fully digitize factory operations. Analytics and IoT are the two main technologies driving Industry 4.0. Analytics can identify data patterns, model equipment behavior, and predict outcomes in a manufacturing setting.

How Can I Adopt Industry 4.0?

For a company to adopt Industry 4.0, they must include the following four design principles into their systems:

  • Interoperability
    • Machines, devices, sensors, and people should be able to connect and communicate via IoT.
  • Information transparency
    • Information systems should be implemented to create a virtual copy of the environment via sensor data.
  • Technical assistance
    • First, systems should be able to support humans in aggregating and visualizing information thoroughly before making informed decisions and solving problems.
    • Second, cyber-physical systems should be able to assist humans on tasks that are unsafe or too difficult.
  • Decentralized decisions
    • Cyber-physical systems should be able to make decisions on their own, allowing them to perform autonomous tasks.

The Risk of Cyber Crime in Industry 4.0

As factories, customers and operations connect, the risk of cyber crimes increases. To be safe, factories adopting Industry 4.0 need to integrate cyber security strategies that foster resilience. Apart from cyber security, there may be other issues along the way. As manufacturing companies start to appreciate the benefits of Industry 4.0, there is the risk of workforce reduction. Ensuring factory processes are fully transparent without requiring human input is a challenge. In addition, there is the lack of know-how in the workforce to implement these systems into factory operations.

Onward and Upward

However, the pros of adopting Industry 4.0 in a manufacturing setting outweigh the cons. According to PwC, companies are anticipating a 3.6 % a year reduction in costs over the next five years as a result of internal improvements and working closely across all value chains. In addition, companies are expecting to see a 2.9% increase in revenues per year because of digitizing operations.

Other reports suggest that emerging economies like India will benefit significantly from adopting Industry 4.0. According to Helmuth Ludwig, CEO at Siemens Industry Sector, “The future of smart factory is today. Previously, the industrial value chain including product designs, production planning, production engineering, and production processes was implemented separately. Today, new technologies are bringing these worlds together in exciting ways.”

There is no doubt that Industry 4.0 is the future, and companies that have already started using this new technology should expect to reap tremendous benefits as the landscape begins to change.