What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is the new buzzword to describe the combination of industry with Internet of Things (IoT) technology. It is a new approach to achieve results, which previously weren’t possible, by using the advancements in technology that have occurred over the past decade.

Why 4.0? Well, some people will argue that it refers to the fourth industrial revolution. The first industrial revolution was the move from farming to factory production in the 19th century. The second came with the introduction of steel production, electrification of factories and mass production at the turn of the 20th century. The third came with the change from analog, mechanical and electronic technology to digital technology in the middle of the 20th century.

The fourth industrial revolution is the move towards digitization which involves IoT and the use of sensors to collect data, powerful analytics and a highly developed communications infrastructure.

German chancellor, Angela Merkel, recently described Industry 4.0 as the way that we “deal quickly with the fusion of the online world and the world of industrial production”.

Another new buzzword linked to Industry 4.0 is ‘smart factory’. With access to greater amounts of in-depth data and new communications technology between systems and operators, smart factories are able to bring a higher level of automation and digitization to the production line and supply chain. Industrial production in an Industry 4.0 environment enables the provision of better quality and customized goods or services with vastly reduced costs.

From customized order to shipment in 2 hours

At Danfoss Drives, Industry 4.0 is already a daily companion driving our operations, and ready to integrate on all levels into customer installations. Our smart, automated production system can build millions of highly customized drive configurations in a flexible, mass-production environment.

Manufacturing processes are IT-driven. From printed circuit board assembly, through soldering to mechanical assembly and testing, all processes are governed by advanced production software and state-of-the-art equipment. The products and manufacturing execution system communicate with each other for optimized efficiency. While the drive is being assembled, the system requests creation of an instruction manual with the content and language that matches the individual specifications of the drive configuration. This unique manual is printed and included in the packaging.

Once installed, the AC drive monitors both its own performance, and the performance of its application. Logs of vital parameters and alarms facilitate preventive troubleshooting. Evaluation of the available internal data as well as external sensor signals takes place in the drive, and can be communicated further via fieldbus. All this information is available through protocols which match customer communication systems.

Danfoss drives also deliver a wealth of relevant process information, based on knowledge of the motor current reflecting the current load conditions of the drive. The high quality of this data enables the drive to initiate action where required. Critical conditions such as over- or under-voltages, or small dips in the power supply from the grid, are detected and dealt with automatically. You can read more about Danfoss and Industry 4.0 here.

It seems that Industry 4.0 will not be a passing fad and it’s certainly big news for business. Management consultancy firm, Accenture, released a report in January 2015 which concluded that an industrial-scale version of the Internet of Things, or Industry 4.0, could add $14.2 trillion to the world economy over the next 15 years.

Keep following this blog for more news about IoT, Industry 4.0 and more technologies of the future.

Author: Lars Bo Pedersen, Project Director, Global Supply Chain, Danfoss Drives A/S

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