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Industry 4.0: 11 Questions Answered

The below is an excerpt from a Cisco Canada blog post. Read the full post here.

There are questions – lots of them – around Industry 4.0. So many that manufacturers are still skeptical of its value.

To shed some light on the subject, experts from Cisco, OTTO Motors, Schneider Electric and MEMEX came together to answer common questions about Industry 4.0. Read their answers below.

What is Industry 4.0?

Matt Rendall, CEO, OTTO Motors:In the last decade, massive technology pillars have been in development like cloud computing, big data, and mobile computing. It’s these types of pillars that have enabled the Industry 4.0 movement and, in turn, will allow the vision of the smart factory to become reality. Industry 4.0 is the next industrial revolution that represents the connectivity between industrial equipment and constant data flow to access and analyze centralized information.

As industry is beginning to leverage these capabilities, we’re now able to capitalize on these trends to make advanced technologies possible; we’re at a really exciting turning point where we can drastically change and improve the way we work and shatter the conventional ways of doing things.

Martin Stephenson, Vice President of Process Automation, Canada, Schneider Electric: The Industrial Revolution, otherwise known as Industry 1.0, started in the late 1700’s, which introduced mechanical production with the assistance of water and steam. Industry 4.0 is the latest transformation within automation and industry, built around the ethos of using cyber-physical systems, which can monitor and augment existing processes, in just about all manufacturing processes, across all segments.

These cyber-physical systems are typically connected using an “Internet of Things” mentality, allowing a fast and accurate flow of information back and forth, enabling the end user to make real time, decentralized decisions about the production capabilities of his or her manufacturing facility, thereby creating a connected and digitized “smart plant”.

What is the difference between Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things?

Jennifer Rideout, Manufacturing Subject Matter Expert, Cisco Canada: The Internet of Things (IoT) is the connection of people, processes, data and things over an IT network. For businesses, the IoT is at the centre of the merger of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) as data is collected to gain insights, optimize processes and create opportunities. Enabling this connectivity of machines and equipment on the factory floor is one element of Industry 4.0, so the IoT is a component of Industry 4.0.

What is the difference between Industry 4.0 and the IIoT?

Jennifer Rideout: The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the extension of the Internet of Things (IoT) into industrial environments. These environments require specialized products and solutions that have been ‘ruggedized’ to operate in extreme situations. They also typically require customization as many legacy technologies, such as controllers, still run on disparate communication protocols.

IIoT solutions are part of the cyber-physical technologies that define the 4th Industrial Revolution, which encompasses additional solutions such as additive manufacturing, digitizing business processes, and advanced control systems. For manufacturers this translates to improved sustainability, less downtime, and more profitability across the factory floor.

David McPhail, CEO, MEMEX:It depends on who is using the terms and what they mean by them. From MEMEX’s perspective, we usually refer to Data-Driven Manufacturing, as we feel it better describes the process.

What matters to us is the business advantages that come when manufacturers automatically capture live machine data in real time and use that information as the basis of their decision-making processes. We want to see manufacturers get better and become more efficient. We want businesses to improve their processes and make better use of their physical and human resources. We want to know that we’ve helped businesses save time and money, and have given them the opportunity to redirect those assets into developing new innovations.

Now, Data-Driven Manufacturing is available and accessible to manufacturers of all types and sizes, from the smallest shops to the largest plants. It is simpler to implement, scalable and affordable. That’s the message we want to spread, and whatever terms are used – IoT, IIoT, Industry 4.0 or Data-Driven Manufacturing — we support and encourage the conversation.