The concept of Industry 4.0 is increasingly at the centre of the current economic-organisational debate despite the continuing struggle to find an unambiguous definition for this global phenomenon. Smart factory, smart city, interconnection, digitalisation, mass customization: they're all terms that belong to the world of 4.0.
But what are we really talking about?
Industry 4.0 is a reality in which ICT, automation and mechatronics work towards a common goal, in which machines and robots are connected remotely with computers equipped with "intelligent" algorithms able to control them autonomously with increasingly limited intervention on the part of operators.
Industry 4.0 introduces the concept of the "smart factory", in which cyber-physical systems control the physical processes of the company and make decentralised decisions. The physical system becomes the Internet of Things, allowing communication and collaboration between them and with people in real time through wireless web systems.
Another concept linked to Industry 4.0 is interconnectivity. Today the exponential development of technologies linked to the web, and therefore to connectivity, together with the power of hardware devices, such as tablets and smartphones for example, is promoting a process of total interconnectivity in all its forms: man/man, man/machine, machine/machine (Cisco has predicted 50 billion by 2020).
If we factor in the development of technologies linked to supervision and the developments of mechatronics for example, we see how we're facing a system that features practically unlimited potential.
When can a company be defined as 4.0?
For a company to be considered 4.0, it must include the following characteristics:
- Interoperability – machines, equipment, sensors and people are interconnected.
- Information transparency — the system is capable of creating a virtual copy o the physical world via data gathered from a series of sensors.
- Technical assistance – the whole system is designed to support man in making decisions and solving problems, and it helps him in complex or dangerous tasks.
- Decentralised decision-making — the cyber-physical system is capable of making simple decisions autonomously.
Our in-depth knowledge of these aspects and of the technologies for implementing them, multidisciplinary know-how and constant research into hardware and software integration from a perspective of interconnectivity position us as leaders in this stage of total interconnection more commonly known as Industry 4.0.
With this in mind, we decided to launch Challenge 4.0, a virtual forum for gathering ideas, projects and specific requests.
If you want to tell us about your concept of 4.0, develop an idea or a project, or have a specific request, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.