What is Industry 4.0 and how does it impact industrial production?

The fourth industrial revolution: moving from Industry 3.0 to 4.0

The third industrial revolution began in the late 20th century and was marked by the introduction of computers and automation. With the evolution of the internet, the fourth industrial revolution is coming up and it’s all about smart and connected devices. The devices used during the third industrial revolution have been improved, made smarter and mostly: they are connected, exchange data, and they suggest improvements. This indicates that the key difference between Industry 3.0 and 4.0 is the use of data and artificial intelligence.

How Industry 4.0 positively impacts industrial production and energy usage

The first impact of Industry 4.0 will be that data insights accelerate improvements in energy efficiency. Energy-use will be optimised and result in major cost savings, and business continuity will be ensured. Measuring and sharing data on a large scale will also result in better performance benchmarking for industries as more data will become available, pushing factories towards continuous improvement.

Challenges of shifting towards Industry 4.0

Whether you are already implementing Industry 4.0 or are investigating the latest developments, new challenges may arise. Here are six common challenges a lot of factories will face:

  • Connecting several devices and collecting data can be a challenge, as you will need a unified data model (or data warehouse) so various types of data can be stored and exchanged. 
  • Depending on the solution, hardware can be hard to install or can require large upfront investments.
  • Data security will be of utmost importance to ensure the data of your company and of your employees are safe. When all devices are connected to one network, privacy and cybersecurity will become even more critical than before.
  • The data received from devices could be hard to analyse, and you might need to hire an energy consultant to help you take the right actions.
  • You might need to start searching for more technical and technology-focused personnel, or you might need to educate your employees on new technologies. 
  • Because technological innovation sometimes outruns policies and regulations, you might have to comply with legislation retroactively.

Even though implementation of Industry 4.0 might be challenging at first, we think that the advantages outweigh the challenges. We also expect a growing difference between factories that have already implemented Industry 4.0 and those that are lagging behind.

How Industry 4.0 will help you with Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a core component of Industry 4.0. Factories will switch to ‘system-thinking’ instead of focusing on separate departments that used to function in isolation. The various systems will now be connected and the processes between departments need to be aligned. 

With the help of sensors and the right software, energy usage can be measured and improved. Smart systems show real-time data and can also suggest improvements, like lowering or eliminating standby power consumption. A smart algorithm will ensure continuity by giving alerts in the case of suspected leakage or clogging, and can prompt suggestions for process optimisation. Overall, Industry 4.0 will accelerate process optimisation, energy consumption reduction and performance improvements for factories.

If you are interested in how you can start with smart energy monitoring to improve your energy efficiency without large upfront investments, download our whitepaper:

Written by Annick Sprokkereef

Annick Sprokkereef

Marketing Assistant