With the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution upon us, we’re seeing a resurgence of interest in technologies that have been around for some years but are getting another look by many manufacturers in the age of Industry 4.0. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the terms and technologies we often get asked about, their applications, and why we think they’re important.
The term Industry 4.0 (or Industrie 4.0) as we now know it was first described in a presentation at the 2011 Hannover Fair by Professor Wolfgang Wahlster, Director and CEO of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. Today, it’s a widely used term that means different things to different people (this article provides a nice round-up of some of the different definitions offered by industry thought leaders), but the basic idea is the same: Industry 4.0 refers to the intelligent networking of machines and processes for industry with the help of information and communication technology.
Because the vision and promise of Industry 4.0 is so bold, and its impact so significant, manufacturers can’t afford to ignore it. The opportunity of Industry 4.0 is massive for suppliers and manufacturers alike, with most research firms expecting the market for Industry 4.0 technologies to at least double over the next 5 years. The impact these technologies will have on the global economy is sizable, Mckinsey estimates Industry 4.0 technologies in factories can generate an economic impact of $1.2-3.7 trillion per year by 2025.