Industry 4.0 is considered the fourth industrial revolution, an era of interaction between virtual and reality that is the outcome of the synergy of different technology, that complement and upgrade each other, assembling the physical (objects), the digital (technology), and the biological (people).
Much like the past industrial revolutions, Industry 4.0 rose from the urge to improve the production systems and the business models. However, this fourth revolution is a result of the assembly of the already existing technologies and not the rise of a new one. It is the way these technologies interact in different areas, the fastness they evolve, and the impact they input in society and companies, that distinguishes this new era from what has already been experienced before.

Pillars of Industry 4.0

The pillars of Industry 4.0 rely on the most recent available technologies in the market and they are the basis of its functioning. We highlight the following:

  • IoT - Internet of Things The main idea behind the Internet of Things, in a simplified manner, is that all objects can be connected to the internet, facilitating the interaction of users with task automation. In the industrial sector, the connection established between multiple devices themselves through the internet and using sensors allows the collection of data on the use, the environment and the state they are in, and the state of the objects themselves. It allows for information to be sent, stored, and analysed, promoting development and opening the possibility of applying differentiating actions.
  • Big Data Nowadays, it's possible to store large amounts of information, allowing forecasts projecting, risks to be anticipated, best decisions to be made, and process optimization. It is this data that makes machines work efficiently.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) The great groundbreaking technology that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has made available in Artificial Intelligence, does not require human intervention for decisions making. AI is a branch of Computer Science with the sole purpose of creating devices capable of simulating the human capacity of thinking, understanding, making decisions, and applying it to solve problems.
  • Safety It is crucial to assure the safety of the information systems within companies. Information or Big Data represents the company's knowledge hence must be protected. The organizational concern focuses on the robustness of the information systems and the prevention of communication problems between machines.
  • Digital Twin Digital twins are virtual and dynamic models, that allow simulations to be created, and relevant data to be gathered, with the principal purpose of promoting preventive maintenance.
  • Cloud Computing The processing operations are not performed on the devices themselves but rather in a hub with dedicated servers, that receive data from users and other systems making new data for different users and other systems.

Benefits for the companies

By achieving productive quality, companies can provide proper optimal responses to the demands of an ever more populated world. This means that by reducing costs and ensuring an enhanced production in a standardized way, companies generate a differentiating competitive potential.
The initial investment in cutting-edge technology is high but rewarding. Smart factories will have the capability to self-control and monitor, in real-time and without human intervention. These systems will be able to identify minor malfunctions or defects along the assembly line and correct them. And IA can perfect processes through the combination of independent modules, and the devices themselves will be prepared to search for updates, test more evolved software and new settings.