April 2016.- Known as the 4th Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0 will network industry’s machines, storage systems and equipment as Cyber-physical systems (CPS) with the outside world. Smart machines and storage systems will exchange information, trigger actions and mutually interact autonomously in an intelligent way. This enables huge improvements in quality, control, speed and resource efficiency of any industrial processes, with applications in the production, engineering, material-flow, supply chain and life cycle management and is coupled with an increase of the life balance of the involved employees because it makes possible a flexible way of producing. In the Smart Factory we find a new production logic: the products can be clearly identified, located at any time and place, you can track their history, their current status, as well as alternative routes to the destination whenever you want and wherever you are. The production systems are also vertically linked to business processes within the factory and controllable in real-time value networks.
Germany is being leader in the industry 4.0 development and implementation.
The starting point was done recently in Germany, in the automobile and machinery sectors, but the applications have no limits, any industrial process involving machines can be optimised with industry 4.0, including traditional sectors like for instance food processing or textiles. According to a report from PwC, by 2020, 80 percent of companies expect to have digitalised their entire value chain, independently of their sector, and by that time, German industry will be investing 40 billion € every year in industry 4.0.
Germany is being leader in the development but also in implementation. If want to get a broad update of engineering, hardware, software, integration and application facts, the best is to visit factories that have already specific implementations ongoing. Following the example of pioneer regions from the south, the German Ministry of Industry has set up the Industry 4.0 Platform. It is the counterpart of the Industrial Internet Consortium and in fact, instead of wasting efforts on fighting with each other, they have recently decided to join forces to explore the potential alignment of their two architecture models RAMI (Reference Architecture Model for Industry 4.0) and IIra (Industrial Internet Reference Architecture), to facilitate the future interoperability between both systems and promote standardization and joint testbeds.
Now, what is exactly Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 is only a catchy naming of a process, namely the combination of production methods with state-of-the-art information and communication technologies. Has this not already been doing in the last decades? Yes, but with the new ICT technologies are making possible a fast huge data transmission and processing that enable digitally networked systems that take self-managed decisions that make production faster, automatic and flexible, being this last variable a key one.
Catalan companies are being active in this process
Seat, who has implemented an innovative system for logistics warehouse management based on augmented reality in cooperation with SETESCA as technology provides, and which has been afterwards rolled out to further warehouses of the Volkswagen Group. The solution consists of a system by which traders use smart glasses for warehouse management processes. The system is intelligent enough to give the instructions to the operator, it indicates him what to do, when and where to do it, and in parallel it controls automatically that the actions made is correct thanks to artificial vision.
Area Director Innovation Zentral- und Osteuropa, ACCIÓ