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Monthly Archives: May 2018

Industry 4.0: An insight


An article by Jitendra Mathur

During Hannover fair, 2011, German government coined a term, ‘Industry 4.0’ which means 4th Industrial revolution. This denotes basically, ‘computerization of manufacturing’.

This means the civilization has already seen 3 industrial revolutions. Let us recapture in brief what were previous three revolutions and how they evolved.

1st Industrial Revolution:

The 1st industrial revolution dates back to 18th century, 1760 ~ 1840. During this time, the manual production started using mechanisation and production floors started using machines. The machines were powered by steam engines and water. The first industry to adopt usage of machines was textile industry. And slowly, people started using the word ‘factory’.

2nd Industrial revolution:

The second industrial revolution happened during 1870 ~ 1914. Mass production was the name of the game. Pre-existing systems of railways and telegraph got converted into industries. This was the time when steel was mass produced leading to growth of railways and researches in chemistry started. Also, notably, electricity became the source of power.

3rd Industrial Revolution:

This phase of industrial revolution started around 1950. This is the time when digitization grew and IT revolution started taking place. This led to automation backed by control systems. Mechanical machines and analog computers got combined to drive digital control systems using robots and basic machinary.

4th Industrial Revolution:

The fourth industrial revolution is the next generation manufacturing. Flexibility and customization in mass manufacturing is the new trend. This means:

  1. Machines will communicate with machines and humans, take decisions and adjust according to customer expectations.
  2. This means the machines will be fitted with sensors which will monitor the health of machine and predict the time of maintenance before failure, in a cloud computing environment.
  3. Manufacturers will be communicating to computers rather than directly operating the machines.

Some Important terms used in this parlance are:

  1. Cyber physical systems (CPS): CPS is monitoring of physical systems by computers and networks at system level and take decentralized decisions. The system consists of 3 stages:
    • Unique Identification: e.g. RFID
    • Integration of sensors and actuators: The integration helped monitoring of machine parameters and environment conditions. But they don’t communicate with each other.
    • Development of sensors and actuators: The development means networking amongst sensors and actuators to be able to communicate with each other, store and analyse data.
  2. Internet of Things (IoT): CPS communicate and co-operate with each other and with human beings in real time, over the cloud to solve problems. In case the goals are conflicting, the case gets referred to higher ups for taking decisions.
  3. Internet of Services (IoS): Once we have devices like sensors, actuators, mobile phones, tablets, laptops etc. to do what they are supposed to do and deliver, a higher-level system is required to co-ordinate between them and simplify the process. This, simply is the IoS.
  4. Internet of People (IoP): The Internet of People is the service infrastructure that enables person-to-person relationships to be established for business transactions; its distributed and decentralized blockchain-based system allows personal data to remain on the end-user device, while the server profiles and proximity will be responsible for establishing the necessary connections to link them.
  5. Smart Factory: Thus comes the smart factory where the physical system (CPS) communicates with virtual system (IoS) over IoT and assists people and machine deliver what they are supposed to.

Design Principles of Industry 4.0:

The design principles for Industry 4.0 clarify how will the new revolution operate.

  1. Interoperability: Interoperability is the ability of machines, devices, sensors, and people to connect and communicate and communicate with each other via IoT and IoP. This is the principle which makes the factory truly smart.
  2. Information transparency or Virtualization: Is the ability of information system to create a virtual copy of physical world by enriching plant models with sensor data i.e. environment. So, this aggregates the raw sensor data to higher value context information
  3. Technical Assistance: Is provision of real time data collection, aggregation, analysis available for making informed decisions and solving urgent problems. Starting from internal processes, the TA has to extend to market, market response and then whole supply chain
  4. Decentralized Decisions: Decentralization is the ability of CPS to take own decisions and perform tasks as autonomously as possible. This gives system opportunity be flexible. Tasks are delegated to a higher level in case of exceptions, interferences or conflicting goals.

 Benefits of implementing Industry 4.0

  1. Optimization: The production will be optimized reducing all kind of wastages, improve machine availability and robust processing. Keeping an eye and maintaining quality across the entire system continues to be a requirement.
  2. Customization: Changing customer requirements can be addressed faster by decentralization of decision making and brining suppliers, factory and customers closer. Networking between suppliers and customers across distant regions also.
  3. Research & Development: The big data available through sensors and actuators, shall help lead R&D to produce better quality products, reduce costs and lead times.

 Challenges in implementing Industry 4.0

  1. Data Security is a big challenge.
  2. Reliability of communication intra machines.
  3. Protection of IPR.
  4. Scale of investment required.
  5. Clarity on financial benefits in short and long term.
  6. Complexity in educating machines to know what to do, when and how to do?
  7. Availability and clarity of required skills for implementation.
  8. Loss of lower level jobs in production.



  1. Industry 4.0 Wikipedia
  2. What everyone must know about Industry 4.0 – Forbes
  3. https://www.cleverism.com/industry-4-0/
  4. https://www.bcg.com/capabilities/…/embracing-industry-4.0-rediscovering-growth.asp
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