What exactly is INDUSTRY 4.0?

These days, the loom is regarded as the first step towards automation in production. The Second Industrial Revolution brought the assembly line of Henry Ford. Electrical automation really gained momentum with the first “programmable logic controller (PLC)”, representing the Third Industrial Revolution.

And today, at the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we will connect the individual machines and systems for automatic data exchange, both inside and outside a company. To this end, we will use private data networks and, where appropriate, also include the Internet with its unlimited possibilities for information exchange in automation.

The expectation that the data networking of sensors, machines and production plants will trigger a Fourth Industrial Revolution is also based on Metcalfe's Law. This law states that the benefit of a communication system grows with the square of the number of participants. The Internet is the best example of this: It was only when the computers working individually in offices were connected via office networks and later via the Internet that their possibilities and benefits exploded.

Now the networking of machines and production plants as well as the integration of information and Internet technologies in sensors, machines and production plants is not something that just anyone can simply prescribe or initiate. On the contrary, it is already simply happening. This is the sign that it has already begun – the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

To support and accelerate this development, the German government launched initial research projects in 2011 to provide orientation and definition. The result of these research projects is the final report “Implementation Recommendations for the Future Project Industry 4.0 for Positioning, Vision and Instructions for Research”.

In addition, the Industry 4.0 platform was created for the exchange of information. This platform is supported by the industry associations BITKOM, VDMA and ZVEI.

The term INDUSTRY 4.0 was adopted as the key term for naming the evolution as well as the recently launched research programmes by the German government.

Goals and background information

The goals associated with INDUSTRY 4.0 are quite simple:

The Federal Government is seeking to strengthen the competitiveness of manufacturing companies and machinery and equipment suppliers in Germany.

If we in Germany were not to pursue this goal, it would certainly have significant consequences in the medium to long term. It would be as if we had ignored the invention of the steam engine and simply stuck with horses.

Other countries such as the US, Japan and China are already investing in these objectives as well. The US in particular is counteracting its own de-industrialisation with its Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) support programme. The US is somewhat ahead of us – just consider the “Internet of things” (see also below in the book recommendation box for Chris Anderson's book “Makers”).

In English-speaking countries and at the EU level, the “Internet of things” and the trend towards digitalisation is more likely to be referred to as a Third Industrial Revolution. This is due to the fact that these countries apply different approaches to counting. In Germany we refer to it as INDUSTRY 4.0.

Industry 4.0 has as its essential element the data-technological connection of “things”. This includes, for example, communication from machine to machine, from plant to plant and from factory to factory.

These data connections in local networks and over the Internet can be used in many areas, such as traffic flow control, smart vehicles, telemedicine, intelligent power grids and of course in the “smart factory”.

For production companies, Industry 4.0 is always focused on the “smart factory” aspect, i.e. the “smart factory” and certainly also on the “Internet of things” aspect.

When data technology is used to connect machines and systems vertically and horizontally in production plants, the company profits from increased production reliability, flexibility and speed. The result is the “smart factory”.

Chapter 2.5 of the Cyber-Physical Systems research roadmap describes an example of the visionary “smart factory”.

So what happens next?

INDUSTRY 4.0 will most certainly have to be interpreted and implemented differently in different industries.

In the automotive industry, for example, it is common practice to have the product, i.e. the resulting vehicle, tell the processing stations what to do.

In a brewery, this is simply nonsensical. The beer in the brewhouse or storage tank simply cannot carry information in transponders like an automobile chassis.

In operations such as beverage industries or breweries, in manufacturing industries or mining, the tasks of production and intralogistics are basically very similar, but the solutions must be approached differently because the products are very different.

It is up to you as the operator, to the machine manufacturers and to us as plant equipment suppliers to develop new and economical solutions within the framework of INDUSTRY 4.0.

We at Artschwager + Kohl specialise in such software solutions. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

What is Industry 4.0? Definition ...

Definition of Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is the designation for a future project for the comprehensive digitalisation of industrial production in order to better equip it for the future.”(Source: Wikipedia)

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 refers to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is marked by the intelligent networking of processes and machines into digital systems. A highly developed information and communication technology forms the technical basis for this. In the future, big data will place further emphasis on the digital transformation for the economy and customers and will increasingly help “smart factories” to achieve the breakthrough.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is based on the Third Industrial Revolution, which began in the 1970s and was characterised by electronic automation and process control via IT.

Application areas of Industry 4.0

Intelligent networking as defined by Industry 4.0 offers high utilisation potentials:

  • Optimisation of intralogistics
  • Optimisation of production logistics
  • Increase in production flexibility
  • Customised product variants
  • Conservation of resources
  • Increased efficiency

Future and opportunities of Industry 4.0

The intensive networking of machines and products can reduce costs, save resources and boost efficiency. Transparent processes and real-time monitoring allow companies to react flexibly to challenges and changes of all kinds at any time.

According to the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research), digital transformation and artificial intelligence will inevitably change the way people work. The future project Industry 4.0 will lead to the production of customised smart products and open up completely new business models.

Modern software solutions for intralogistics, production logistics and machine control will offer medium-sized and large companies maximum flexibility without the need for complex programming.

Artschwager + Kohl is a specialist for warehouse management software, production software and transport control systems. We have a great deal of experience in implementing modern Industry 4.0 solutions in a variety of industries. We will be happy to advise you ...

Further information


Jürgen Kohl, Geschäftsführer von Artschwager + Kohl

Do you want to take your company to the next level? Are you wondering how Industry 4.0 solutions can help you? Please call me any time. Let's talk about your ideas free of charge and without obligation. Let's find out how I can help you.

Jürgen Kohl

+49 9132 836660

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