What is industry 4.0?

Brian Purio - Rise-X
October 2, 2021

Every day we interact with technology, from the smartphone in your pocket that lets you browse funny cat videos to your robotic vacuum that cleans your living room and beeps for help at 2am when it gets stuck.

Through one way or another these technologies have come to fruition not by virtue of luck but rather a continuous devotion to innovation and desire for increased productivity and comfort in society.

If we zoom out and look at all the advances in technology over the last 250 years there have been 4 major ‘revolutions’ that have shaped the landscape of technology today.

1. Mechanization via water and steam power propelled the first industrial revolution,

2. mass production and assembly lines using electricity,

3. Computers, software and automation

4. smart, autonomous systems fuelled by data and machine learning manage industry and drive productivity / growth.

I’ll be honest, writing that last sentence made me feel like I might have a case of buzzworditis. So, let’s unpack it.

“Smart, autonomous systems” = digital products communicating, measuring and managing physical machinery and assets. For example, Amazon use robots and drones to move products around their warehouses. And, Oil and Gas companies create ‘digital twins’ of their assets to conduct testing and simulations.

“Fuelled by data and machine learning” = all human or digital interaction with these systems create data, this data is analysed to understand relationships, patterns and insights.  

“Manage industry, and drive productivity / growth” = productivity really means doing with less. The insights derived by the aforementioned data analysis help computers and humans be more efficient at completing their job or task or in other words, help them do more with less.

 

Applications and Impact of Industry 4.0

It’s 2021, industry 4.0 technologies are vastly interwoven with our daily lives and industrial supply chains. So, what are some technologies, applications and what impact have they had so far?

Autonomous operations, equipment and vehicles: Resolute Mining in Mali operates the worlds first autonomous cave gold mine. Their entire operation from drilling to trucking is carried out by a digital system and as a result they have cut mining costs by 30%.

 

Internet of things (IOT): IoT refers to billions of physical devices connected via the internet, all collecting and sharing data. IoT is arguably the most valuable but least tapped ‘resource’ out of all the industry 4.0 technologies. Connecting the physical world to the digital world via sensors will provide a level of digital intelligence enabling computers to communicate in real time without human intervention. According to McKinsey, linking the physical and digital worlds could generate up to $11.1 trillion a year in economic value by 2025. That’s a lot of value!!

Cloud computing: Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services such as applications, storage and processing power over the internet. It gives users access to the latest technology and provides this capability at a fraction of the cost, with infinite scalability and enhanced security. It gives smaller companies (like us) the ability to compete and provide unique solutions in traditionally high barrier to entry markets e.g. ERP technology or FinTech.  

Other notable technologies: Blockchain and smart contracts – see our article on Smart Contracts (Link to Smart Contracts article), artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, 3-D printing.

Where does RISE-X fit into industry 4.0 puzzle?

There is no doubt that these technologies are fast becoming some of the most influential drivers of innovation and productivity growth. They are incredibly complimentary to each other and we believe the real value is when they are used in unison.

At the core of our platform is blockchain, it provides end-to-end transparency and using smart contracts it can manage roles, permissions and automate processes. 

But, when used in conjunction with AI, Big Data, IoT integration and cloud computing we can create highly connected, trust-based, decentralized business ecosystems with the capacity to operate autonomously and at a global scale.  

Simply, imagine a world where we can analyse data and relationships ACROSS supply chains rather than just within a single company or two. One where we can use the data captured from multi-party workflows to predict events, optimize resources and create digital twins of our ‘ecosystems’.  

Very cool! At least we think so.