The term "Industry 4.0” refers to the alleged fourth industrial revolution. The first one hinged around the steam engine, then came a focus on science and mass production, and finally, the digital age. This fourth industrial revolution is about data, analytics, numbers, and information.
Of course, stating that the advent of data and information in modern industries is as influential as the steam engine is a haughty claim. How true it is. Only time will tell. The impact, however, is evident.
Look at how marketing companies scramble to get data on their customers and target demographics. Remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal? Or have you noticed that ads online are becoming more direct and personalized?
However, this isn't just about personal data. Data itself, basic information that is part of manufacturing processes, can be harnessed, learned from, and used to optimize, save money, and improve.
The topic is pretty complex, so let's dive in.
Big Data Analytics
Data is a big part of industry 4.0, but it seems like it's just a term people like to throw around. However, collecting data as part of this new technology isn't just a buzzword. It has an actual application in the process, as it is based on IoT, aggregators, cloud computing, and sensors.
These tools have connected our society beyond what we thought possible and given us a new way to interact with each other and businesses worldwide. Big data is basically how the internet functions, regardless of what you use it for.
Even if you're not familiar with the inner workings of the internet, you've heard about algorithms and other types of visualizations that help people gather information from the raw collected data.
Industry 4.0 takes things a bit further and uses big data for predicting and solving problems before they even occur.
It's not just about targeting the right people and giving them personalized ads or improving the music player algorithm you use daily. It's about anticipating behavior and problems to minimize the risk and the damage within your company.
It's mainly centered around the day-to-day operations and streamlining processes within a given business.
The Use of Artificial Intelligence
To harness the power of big data, Industry 4.0 uses the power of AI. Instead of having people analyze countless hours of data and try to make sense of them, then make educated guesses about the future, the industry relies on a more automatic process.
Artificial intelligence can analyze the raw information more quickly, discover patterns the human eye might miss, and make more accurate predictions for the future.
For example, healthcare workers can benefit from AI as it helps them get a more precise diagnosis for a patient.
The program will analyze the patient's medical history, symptoms, and overall health.
From here, it will be able to diagnose the patient more accurately and help the healthcare professional prescribe a more suitable treatment.
How Talent Fits in
It takes time and resources to find people who understand big data to the level that Industry 4.0 technology and tools do. Even if you find multiple experts in the field, their results won't be as good as what can be achieved with new software simply because they're human.
Let's not forget about the costs of having a person or even team dedicated solely to data analysis. However, this isn't to say the new technology and software will completely replace people.
Instead, it will make their jobs easier while providing them with better resources. Of course, training your staff to use Industry 4.0 is still essential, but it costs a lot less and takes a lot less time when you've got the technology doing all the heavy lifting.
We keep talking about how fantastic technology and the internet are, but we also have to mention the obvious security issues. With everything connected, it's easier than ever to have problems with data-stealing. A lot of companies also have to fight off cyber hacker attacks.
This isn't even a theoretical possibility. We know from worldwide scandals that issues like these occurred within big companies that had a lot of data at their disposal.
Industry 4.0 wouldn't be the talk of the town if it didn't have answers to these issues, though. As a result, there are parts of the industry and tools explicitly dedicated to increasing security and preventing cyber attacks.
This means less worrying about potential scandals and being more confident that your data isn't vulnerable to people with bad intentions. In a digital society where information is the primary source of power, this can be the difference between running a successful business and having to close your doors for good.
Predicting Equipment Failure
Aside from predicting patterns and potential issues for the business itself, Industry 4.0 can monitor and expect problems with your equipment. This is especially important for companies that work with a lot of machinery.
Keeping everything in good condition is essential, as one problem can set the production process days behind schedule. With this new technology, you'll get a heads up whenever a piece of machinery isn't working as well as it should.
It's also possible to get diagnostics of why the machine isn't performing as it should be or what kind of maintenance you need to perform.
While not on everyone's radar as of yet, Industry 4.0 has the potential to change how we work. From predicting machine behavior to helping companies cut costs, it's something that has practical use across various industries.
Only time will tell if this new technology's challenges can be overcome, but things are moving in the right direction. For now, it's important to stay on top of the research. Contact us and start introducing changes to your workplace and start preparing your team mentally for the next industrial revolution.