Industry 3.0 to Industry 4.0 – The Journey

Industry 4.0 (I4.0 or I4) is the subset of the fourth industrial revolution, which encompasses technology and processes that are not typically classified as smart cities, buildings, hospitals and municipalities.

I4.0 factories, for example, have machines that are augmented with wired and wireless connectivity and sensors, connected to systems that can visualize entire production lines and make decisions independently. You’ll sometimes hear this referenced as machine learning or system learning. Simplified, it’s the trend toward automation, data collection and exchange in manufacturing technologies and processes which include cyber-physical systems (CPS), the Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), cloud computing, cognitive computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and more.

I’ve had many clients express interest in embracing I4.0, referring to the next step in the evolution of interconnection and information transparency, looking to enable technical assistance from systems to support decentralized decision making and autonomous task performance. While the drivers and value behind their desire to embrace I4.0 are certainly there, many have yet to adopt the already advanced technologies of the third industrial revolution or digital revolution.

A jump from Industry 3.0 (I3.0 or I3) to I4.0 is not for the faint of heart and should be considered a journey. It took 35 years after World War II to advance through Dr. Joseph Harrington’s book on Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM). Forty years later, we’ve progressed through the advancement and combination of the Purdue Reference Model and the ANSI/ISA-95 Standard, which set up the architecture of modern-day Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM). Most progressive organizations are still in the infancy of rolling out plant- and enterprise-wide MES / MOM systems, while others haven’t even started yet.

Today, top hardware and software providers have offerings that can connect and enable smart factories, smart hospitals, smart buildings and smart cities, but how and to what end? What data and from what sources do we need to collect, store, calculate and share to enable machine and system learning, decentralized decision making, and the technical assistance referenced above? The simple answer is that it’s different for every organization. Hence the need to approach I4.0 as a journey, focusing first on an organization’s alignment of a shared vision on the why first, followed by the what, where, when and finally how.

My advice is to slow down to speed up. Spend the required amount of time in a discovery and planning phase to gain organization-wide alignment from the shop floor to the top floor on the why. Then keep the end in mind and try to not focus on too much at one time.

What things can you connect and measure that could provide information needed for improvement? Let the value of those improvements drive your decisions on what to prioritize during your journey. Select hardware, software and execution partners who possess the subject matter expertise to help you along that journey and who are willing to remain engaged with your organization as advisors, coaches and mentors.

Good luck as you embark on or continue your journey through I3.0, and let us know how Faith Technologies can help you prepare for I4.0.