What is Industry 4.0?

According to industry pundits, we’re currently in the midst of another industrial revolution, Industry 4.0. But in case you’ve been too busy keeping together your link in the supply chain that you’re not up on the latest business jargon, here’s a quick recap:

  • Industry 1.0 and 2.0 are the industrial revolutions you learned about in high school; with the first beginning in the 18th century and the second in the 19th century.
  • Industry 3.0 is the automation and computerization of processes, which began in the 1970s.
  • Industry 4.0 is what some call the fourth industrial revolution, or the robotization of processes and the optimization of computerization that occurred as a result of Industry 3.0.

Industry 4.0 is the stuff of Ted Talks and Elon Musk rants, but there’s actual substance. Because the digital revolution is fundamentally changing how individuals view both work and non-work activities, many people are embracing the technological changes brought about by artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), robots, and self-driving vehicles, and see Industry 4.0 as an opportunity for greater sustainability.

As we progress through Industry 4.0 and create the supply chains of the future, certain supply-chain characteristics ultimately contribute to resilience and sustainability – both of which are hallmarks of Industry 4.0.

What Industry 4.0 Means for You

Companies that embrace Industry 4.0 will exhibit the following:

  • Utilization of IoT technologies, such as real-time inventory, demand and condition monitoring.
  • Agility in responding to ever-changing local, regional, national, and global conditions.
  • Increased productivity and efficiencies.
  • Enhanced connectivity and collaboration with suppliers and partners.
  • Sustainable business practices.
  • Resilience and effective proactive risk management.

These changes will occur as part of the evolution to an enterprise-wide mindset that encompasses all areas of business. Increased use of robots along with the optimization and aggregation of all company systems and data (through IoT and the implementation of big data) will drive efficiency and productivity company wide. Intelligent operations and engineering will leverage human resources, physical assets, and more.

Artificial intelligence will power supply-chain management solutions in real-time, provide insights into demand and usage (predicting bottlenecks before they happen, for example), foresee risks before it’s too late to pivot, and even suggest new products or service offerings based on calculated data. In fact, big data is now being heralded as a tool to predict and hopefully prevent the next viral epidemic from becoming a global pandemic – or, at the very least, avoiding the shipping snafus and scarcity scenarios of the Covid-19 pandemic.

How Businesses Can Prepare Right Now for the Future

Industry 4.0 involves both horizontal and vertical integration as organizations bring together all facets of business and fully implement unified hardware, software, data, and automation.

Fortunately, we’re just entering the era of Industry 4.0, and so companies can make changes now to adopt and champion automation, IoT, big data, and artificial intelligence so as not to be left behind as the supply chain evolves into its next state.

Next Steps

Contact IndPro specialists. Our team of experts will provide the right consultation that will leverage robotics and automation to maintain long-term profitability for your business.