3 technologies driving Industry 4.0
Consumers are well aware of how connected technologies are speeding up the delivery of goods and services, enabling new and diverse methods for communication and even breaking down the geographical barriers to where and how they work. But when it comes to the production of those goods consumers can order with just a few taps on their smartphone (and even how that smartphone itself is created), a new breed of connected technologies are having a completely transformative impact.
Known as Industry 4.0, the latest digital transformation hitting the manufacturing space is akin to the industrial revolutions that have changed the world in generations past. There have been three such prior “revolutions” (hence, Industry 4.0) that have had a lasting impact on industrial society over the past few centuries.
The First Industrial Revolution took place during the end of the eighteenth century and marks the transition from tools powered by human or animal labor to mechanization, including advancements like the steam engine and the dawn of coal mining for fuel. The next revolution bears the hallmarks of “American efficiency,” with the invention of the assembly line and mass production as well as the introduction of electric power, resulting in more affordable goods for consumers.
Then, electronic components came on the scene in the middle of the last century that prompted the rise of digital technology over analog, delivering more precise control and better automation. This heralded the rise of computers in manufacturing, which teed-off all of the advancements that have brought us to the doorstep of Industry 4.0.
At its core, Industry 4.0 integrates digital components into the physical end of manufacturing. Along with increases in automation, the goal is to establish smoother connections between departments, products and people. To accomplish this, companies need to embrace technologies that rely increasingly on network connectivity to succeed. These include:
Big Data and Analytics (BDA): Companies have access to more data today than ever before, whether that’s performance metrics recorded by production equipment and systems or even customer-management platforms. Teams will need to collect and analyze these vast quantities of data quickly and accurately to support the real-time decision making that will become standard in the factory of the future. This requires manufacturing networks that don’t suffer from chronic traffic bottlenecks, which in turn require network monitoring solutions that can automatically parse through massive traffic volumes to give accurate insights with minimal delay.
Industrial IoT (IIoT): As part of the path to wider automation to drive efficiency, manufacturers will leverage an array of new field devices that will need to communicate and interact with each other and enable decentralized analysis and decision making. This means that network managers will be increasingly reliant on visibility at remote locations to ensure new devices remain performant via the network. This calls for a monitoring solution that can track a litany of devices across an array of locations, all without taking up a significant share of network capacity that should be allocated to business-critical solutions.
Cloud Computing: As part of the rise of BDA, manufacturing workflows will require increased data sharing between a dispersed network of remote sites as well as with vendors and third-party networks. Enabling this will require machine data and functionality to be deployed to cloud environments, enabling more data-driven services for production systems. This will help enable the success of IIoT, real-time decision making and increases in product quality that manufacturers hope to achieve with Industry 4.0.
None of these technologies can succeed if enterprise teams can’t gain visibility into network environments they either don’t own or control outright, or remote locations where there isn’t a physical IT presence to report on local performance. Teams also can’t achieve the speed of digital transformation they need to keep up with leading manufacturers without monitoring solutions that can be deployed quickly and with minimal impact on existing network conditions.