Industry 4.0 – 10 questions and answers about Smart Manufacturing

Updated: Dec 17, 2019


This post is an attempt to help the readers fully grasp the paradigm change needed for smart manufacturing, also known as industry 4.0. The 4th industrial revolution/evolution, is here to stay, empowering already many companies around the world.

1. What is Industry 4.0 / Industrie 4.0 / Smart Manufacturing?

According to German Trade and Invest (GTAI), Industry 4.0 is described as "a paradigm shift, made possible by technological advances, which constitute a reversal of conventional production process logic". Also known as Smart Manufacturing or Industrial Internet of Things – IIoT, it is Germany´s answer to globalization. Its objective is to help companies, especially in manufacturing and engineering sectors, achieve unparalleled levels of performances and efficiency. To do this, flexible tools are being used which lead to digitization and integration of:

  • Vertical & Horizontal Value Chains,

  • Product & Services,

  • Business Processes & Customer

2. What is the difference between Industry 4.0 and Lean manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing or lean production is a method created in Japan around late 1980. It is an industrial philosophy that consists in the use of ongoing systematic models to minimize waste and maximize resource usage.

Industry 4.0, leads to the next level of performance. By focusing on the end-to-end digitization of everything, using cyber-physical systems, it connects and integrates digital environments with value chain partners. This wide network of new technologies and exchange of information in real-time between both men and systems, allows companies to experience unparalleled levels of performance, efficiency and quality.

3. What are Cyber-Physical Systems?

Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) mark the next chapter in industrial advancements. Those systems enable technologies bring together the virtual world of computers and networks, with physical processes, in order to create an environment which allows "intelligent" objects to talk and respond to one another.

Cyber-Physical Systems like Enterprise Management Solution (EMS) systems empower companies with:

  • Transparency across whole operations, processes and planning,

  • Simplicity to implement, connect, operate and maintain equipment,

  • Interoperability through unlimited horizontal and vertical integration of whole operations,

  • Instantaneous data, meaning highest quality of data.

By being intelligently linked with all existing systems, machines, locations, etc., EMS systems, in real-time, interchange data via interconnected networks like sensors, interfaces and software systems, as well as actuator systems for influencing physical processes. This empowers companies with information presented to them instantly, allowing sharing of high quality data across multiple location and business units.

This new generation of systems:

  • Does not require plant shut down, thus there is no distortion of data or production,

  • Can be operated as stand-along or part of a preexisting IT infrastructure,

  • Are fully customizable, adaptable and intuitive requiring minimum training and supervision.

4. What is the difference between Industry