The world has witnessed three industrial revolutions, each bringing challenges in adopting new manufacturing methods. The First Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century and occupied production’s mechanization. The Second Industrial Revolution, also known as the Technological Revolution, involved the use of telephonic communications and electrical and steam power.
With the Third Industrial Revolution, the world witnessed the spread of automation and digitization through the use of electronics and computers and the invention of the internet.
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, human-machine interaction and the use of embedded Internet of Things (IoT) based sensors drive data-based decisions. Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing how companies manufacture, improve and distribute their services and products. Manufacturers are integrating new technologies, including cloud computing and analytics, the Internet of Things, AI and machine learning, into their production facilities and throughout their operations to make manufacturing more flexible, agile, and responsive to the customers.
The manufacturing industry realizes the importance of developing smart factories equipped with advanced sensors, embedded software and robotics that collect and analyze data and allow for better decision-making.
Let us first take a quick look at the technologies that are driving industry 4.0:-
• Internet of Things (IoT)
The growth of the global Internet of Things in the Manufacturing Industry is projected to reach USD 87.9 billion by the end of 2026. IoT is becoming a key element of smart factories. IoT technology enables data flow and provides the capability to monitor and manage the process remotely and immediately change the production plans when needed. However, it also improves the manufacturing outcomes, reduces waste, speeds production and improves the quality of goods produced.
• AI and Machine Learning
AI and Machine Learning are allowing Industry 4.0 to gain a foothold in businesses and factory floors. AI permeates the whole Industry 4.0 ecosystem; an example of this can be the use of AI algorithms to optimize the supply chain of manufacturing operations and t help them better respond to and expect change in the market.
AI and Machine Learning can also produce insights as long as predictability and automation of operations and business processes. Moreover, using data collected from these assets can help a business to perform predictive maintenance based on the algorithms of Machine Learning, resulting in higher efficiency.
• 3D Printing
3D Printing allows manufacturers to produce complex parts with speed. Prototypes designed using 3D technology are used in the R&D stage to fix all design problems before mass production. However, with 3D printing, parts and products can be stored as design files in virtual inventories and printed on demand, thereby reducing cost and transportation distances.
• Cloud Computing
The full realization of smart manufacturing demands connectivity and integration of engineering, supply chain, production, sales and distribution, and services. Cloud makes that possible. Cloud platforms allow businesses to access the latest data, applications and processes brought by the new technological era without overspending on building physical infrastructure.
• Cyber Security
As the manufacturing industry adopts Industry 4.0, it becomes an increasingly appealing target for attackers. Without strong protection, attackers can take advantage of systems for IP leakage, Intellectual Property theft, industrial espionage, or even production sabotage. To protect itself against evolving threats, the manufacturing sector should adopt a risk-based security mindset and security-first approach to developing new connected systems.
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