Industry 4.0, what’s it all about?

The characteristics of socio-industrial revolutions have one thing in common – the focus is always on changes to production processes. The aims of these revolutions are also the same – greater productivity, increased flexibility and optimization of value creation have shaped innovation and continue to do so. Industry 1.0 represents the transition from muscle power to physically generated energy using steam and water. Industry 2.0 is the start of mass production using electrical energy. And Industry 3.0? This describes the age of computer-aided automation that generated major growth in productivity and flexibility from the 1970s onwards.

Digitally networked production

Factory 4.0 covers all the new opportunities related to digitally networked production, such as assembly, maintenance, repair, marketing and disposal. These include machinery and components that are no longer just networked and centrally controlled – as in Industry 3.0 – but also make independent decisions decentrally, based on digital information, and then incorporate these into the overall production system. Over time, adaptive systems will emerge that will redefine much of what we regard as tried and tested. Vast data volumes that can be stored and analysed as big data are already a reality. In the future, global competition will be decided in the data room. Intelligent analysis programs will enable predictions of how technical processes can be made more efficient, reliable and fail-resistant. This predictive analytics is about much more than looking in a crystal ball. SEW-EURODRIVE is already turning this know-how into reality. Predictive maintenance of machines and systems is a major goal.