What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0

There is a lot of talk around Industry 4.0, but is it something we need to be looking at? 

Industry 4.0 is simply the buzzword for the 4th Industrial Revolution. In other words, revolutions are driven by innovation and previous revolutions dramatically changed the way industries worked and produced goods. As a result, with Industry 4.0, we are seeing an incredible increase in digital transformation through the adoption and integration of the latest technologies.

Futurist Daniel Burrus probably describes it best – “The general definition of Industry 4.0 is the rise of digital industrial technology … Industry 4.0 transformations allow us to work alongside machines in new, highly productive ways.

Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation

Digitally transforming the way businesses manufacture, evaluate and improve their processes, as well as how they distribute their products, is what Industry 4.0 is all about.

According to SAP,” Industry 4.0 is built on nine technology pillars. These innovations bridge the physical and digital worlds and make smart and autonomous systems possible.”

  • Big Data and AI Analytics
  • Horizontal and vertical integration
  • Cloud computing
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
  • Additive manufacturing/3D printing
  • Autonomous robots
  • Simulation/digital twins
  • Cybersecurity

The true impact of Industry 4.0 and digital transformation occurs when these technologies are digitally connected and can create and share information. Through this transformation, computers are no longer stand-alone. They are now able to connect, communicate with one another and make decisions without human intervention. And this combination of technologies has seen smart machines become smarter as they are continually able to access more data.

So, in essence, this is the way new technologies communicate and connect.



The ability of smart machines or cyber-physical systems – where products and production processes are networked and are able to communicate has seen new improved ways of production, as well as the capability to create value and optimisation in real-time.

Businesses that have taken advantage of all of what it currently has to offer have seen an increase in automation and process improvements which has also led to a substantial improvement in efficiencies and customer service.

‘Smart factories’ is another phrase we are seeing more of. These factories have the ability to collect and analyse large amounts of data collected from sensors allowing for things like predictive maintenance which has seen a massive decrease in their downtime.

Supply chain and logistics are other areas that are reaping the benefits of Industry 4.0. Where connected systems can adjust when new information is received. For example, if shipments have been delayed, a connected system can adjust accordingly and can reprioritise.

Shipping yards have seen the introduction of autonomous equipment like cranes and trucks which have streamlined their operations when it comes to receiving shipping containers. Companies like Amazon make use of autonomous robots. Which transport their products throughout their warehouses, reducing costs and optimising the use of their floor space.


Previously this type of digital transformation hasn’t necessarily been thought of as something small to medium enterprises can take advantage of. But there really is no excuse as every business should be looking at how they can integrate all the new available technologies. Industry 4.0 is something that should be embedded within any business’s digital strategy. It’s all about enabling these technologies to connect and communicate, taking your business to the next level.

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