Industry 4.0

Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come

I am sure you have all seen various translations of the Victor Hugo quote: “On résiste à l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l’invasion des idées.”

Some of the most popular variations include:

  • “No army can stop an idea whose time has come”
  • “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come”

Writing this from our Global Innovations Lab at our HQ in the beautiful town of Killarney, Ireland, it’s difficult to imagine that a revolution is underway. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening in businesses, industries and corporations across the globe.

You may have heard of Industry 4.0 but I’m pretty sure that the majority of people consider it just another buzz word. Most are blissfully unaware of the huge transformation that is taking place, a revolution that will shape the future of how we produce and manufacture our products, communicate and live our lives. So where is this change coming from?

The answer can be summed up in one word, Digitisation! The impact of this phenomenon on Industry has led to the period in which we are living, a point in time, referred to as Industry 4.0. due to the consensus that we are in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution.

First industrial Revolution – Mechanical, driven by steam power

Second Industrial Revolution – Electrical, the emergence of mass production

Third Industrial Revolution – Computing, automation and robotics

Fourth Industrial Revolution – Cyber-Physical Connection, autonomy

From my standpoint, the speed of change is the key. There have been more advances in technology in the last 200 years than in all the preceding history. This change shows no sign of slowing down!

When computers were introduced in the 1970s, technology was totally new and disruptive. Industry 4.0 is bringing and will continue to bring technology that is no less new and disruptive. One of the primary revolutions is autonomy, i.e. computers and machinery will be able to effectively work together and solve problems without any human involvement.

Can we see Industry 4.0 applications today?

There are several examples today, such as autonomous cars. This is a real demonstration of the “art of the possible”, a machine that marries the Internet of Things and the Internet of Systems through a combination of cyber & physical systems.

We will hear the odd news story about various trials that are underway. However, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s just another fad. Yet, you can rest assured knowing that significant investments are well underway from big players in the automotive industry. GM, Ford, VW and BMW are investing billions of euros now to create the transport norms of the future.

Networking machines that are digitally connected with one another, having the ability to create and share data & information, these results demonstrate the power of Industry 4.0 (“Industrie 4.0” (original German term)) is a digital transformation the value chain of the industry, at the beginning only focused on Manufacturing, and nowadays in many sectors beyond the industry. The main goal at the beginning was the “Automation in a wider sense”, but later concentrated on new business models and revenue sources with new advanced information and smart services (e.g., blockchain technology) through the whole value chain.

What should you be looking for in terms of Opportunity?

Mobile Internet and IoT – Coming of age

The Internet has changed the way people interact. The mainstream and mobile internets have now infiltrated and influenced our industrial systems. With computing power and storage capacity increasing across smart mobile devices, mobile terminals and APPs will be used in the design, manufacture and management of industrial processes.

Companies who are investing in mobile and smart devices now have a real opportunity to develop a competitive advantage over the coming years.

Harnessing Cloud Technology

With the advances in low cost and high-performance computing power “as a service”, every organisation can scale and grow their operations quickly and seamlessly. Virtualisation technology provides cloud computing with flexible and dynamic allocation and sharing of resources. This includes software, hardware, platforms, IT infrastructure and the associated resources as and when required.

Bringing the right resource to the right place, at the right time – every time!

Big Data and BI – Time to make it work for your business

It is more than just smart machines, it is smart machines that can process a vast amount of data, allowing them to learn and make informed decisions dynamically.

Ubiquitous sensors and microprocessors have generated a huge amount of data, well in excess of traditional methods. This data comes in many sizes:

  • Structured and unstructured
  • Product-centric
  • Operational
  • Supply chain
  • External

Collaboration is key to using Big Data to quickly gain valuable information from various data sources – offering the opportunity to achieve in-depth understanding and insights to allow meaningful decision making.

The opportunities are endless in terms of delivering efficiencies and reducing costs while delivering faster manufacturing times and enhanced services.

Key Take Away

When I speak with Industry professionals, there are always some key question I like to pose

– Do you think that the impact of digital transformation will be greater, lesser or stay the same over the coming year?

– How many spreadsheets do you use to run your business process and monitor efficiency and production?

– What are you doing to keep your business competitive and sustainable moving forward?

My advice is to develop a plan that looks at these three things:

What you could do, what you should do and most importantly what you need to do!

As always, I would welcome the opportunity to hear your challenges and share insights.

Kieran Caulfield

+353 87 1488620