INDUSTRY 4.0

The 4th industrial revolution is here

Industry 4.0 has an impact on context, technology and business as long as it transforms design, production systems and products themselves. It creates new business models, increases productivity, promotes industrial growth, modifies the workforce profile and redefines the dynamics of global competitiveness in companies and regions. Industry 4.0 also has an impact on demand (mass customization, omnichannel access to products and services, predictive knowledge of consumer habits, mass access to information).

The concept of Industry 4.0 is not only applicable in factories, but also throughout the entire value chain. It is based on the interaction of people, machines and systems and on the availability of complete information in real time. As the Industry 4.0 concept is relatively new (2013), very few companies’ business models are wholly devoted to this field. However, some companies operating in more innovative sectors may be more likely to focus their core business on Industry 4.0

The digital transformation represented by Industry 4.0 is based on a series of technological tools, including production, intelligence and data & connectivity:

  • Advanced Robotics: interaction with humans and improvement of performance. 
  • Additive manufacturing: 3D printing reduces raw materials, stocks and transport distances. 
  • Augmented reality: giving workers real-time information in order to improve decision making and work processes. 
  • Simulation: reproduction of the real world in a virtual model to perform tests and optimise machine programming. 
  • Systems integration: manufacturers, suppliers and clients are closely connected via computer systems, providing truly automated value chains. 
  • Big Data: mass data analysis to support real-time decision making. 
  • Internet of Things: based on the connection of machines and systems in the productive space and a fluid exchange of information with the outside world. 
  • Cybersecurity: to protect critical industrial systems and production lines against hacking, industrial copyright, personal data and privacy. 
  • The cloud: for task enabling and to make more computer services work in production.

The combination of an industrial economy and a powerful ICT sector is key to Industry 4.0 in Catalonia:

Industry represents 21% of Catalonia’s GDP. This percentage is above the European average and already meets EU 2020 objectives. Catalonia also has a powerful ICT sector. With more than 15,000 companies and almost 16,000 million euros of annual revenue, ICT is a motor for growth in Catalonia, generating wealth and quality jobs.

In a study carried out by ACCIO, a high level of awareness has been detected in Catalan companies regarding the need to digitize their processes, but those who have actually begun this task are mainly large firms. The study identifies 365 companies supplying Industry 4.0 products and services. They have an aggregate revenue of €1.224B (0.6% of total Catalan GDP 2015) and employ 23,154 people(2015). These companies’ aggregate revenue can be considered relatively low, probably because Industry 4.0 is in its early stages and many pilot projects still have to be scaled up.

  • 82.7% of the companies identified employ fewer than 50 people and only 3% are large companies
  • 44% of the companies identified are exporters and 13% have a foreign subsidiary.
  • 41% of all companies are in the data and connectivity segment, and the segments with the highest aggregate revenue are control and automation, and data and connectivity (35%, each).

Currently, there are more companies integrating these technologies than developing them. Main applications of the most developed Industry 4.0 technologies in Catalonia include design and personalization, prototyping, manufacturing and assembly, verification, maintenance and marketing. The sectors that have made the most progress in the digitization process are the automotive industry, medical technologies, and machinery and equipment. The demand sectors with the greatest potential for applying Industry 4.0 are those already mentioned as well as the transport, logistics and distribution industries.

Industry 4.0 in Catalonia: map of agents

The map of agents in Catalonia include knowledge providers, clusters and associations, training programmes and institutions, as well as fairs and international entities.

It also includes solution providers (production resources, data and connectivity solutions and intelligence tools), distributors and integrating agents such as installers, engineering firms and consultancies.

End users include companies from different sectors: automotive and motorcycle industry; machinery, metallurgy and capital goods; healthcare and medical equipment; logistics, e-commerce and distribution; chemicals and plastics; pharmaceutical industry; energy and resources; food sector and circular economy.

Different organizations promote Industry 4.0 in Catalonia, including the 21 technological centres in the TECNIO network, and important trade fairs such as the IoT Congress, Advanced Factories Expoand the recently created Global 3D Printing Hub. Professional associations also play a relevant role in promoting Industry 4.0. There are 10 clusters linked to the concept of Industry 4.0.

Main Industry 4.0 related opportunities in Catalonia

Catalonia offers innovation, internationalization and investment opportunities for industry 4.0

  • Innovation opportunities: increased process traceability and standardization, mass product customization, improved maintenance processes (predictive and preventive), relocation of industrial processes, reduction of human participation in non-ergonomic and hazardous processes, staff training, and reduction of energy costs.
  • Internationalization opportunities: countries of interest have been identified for the internationalization of Catalan companies. These countries have witnessed a decline in their industrialization in recent years but have the know-how and mentality to react in the future. Their industrial GDP is outstanding and they have a suitable business environment. They include the United States, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Taiwan.
  • Opportunities for attracting foreign investment: opportunities have been detected from attracting leading companies in the sector to Catalonia, but more opportunities would come from attracting the development centres of companies that already have headquarters in Catalonia.

Some technology and research centres working in Industry 4.0:

  • EURECAT (3D printing, augmented reality, big data & analytics, collaborative robotics, simulation, IoT, horizontal & vertical integration, cybersecurity) 
  • LEITAT (3D printing, collaborative robotics, cybersecurity) 
  • IQS TECH TRANSFER (URL) (3D printing) 
  • IRIS (3D printing, horizontal & vertical integration, collaborative robotics, IoT) 
  • IRTA (3D printing, big data & analytics, collaborative robotics, simulation) 
  • CVC (augmented reality, collaborative robotics, horizontal & vertical integration, IoT) 
  • GTI (UPF) (augmented reality, big data & analytics, IoT) 
  • I2CAT (augmented reality, big data & analytics, cybersecurity) 
  • LA SALLE R&D (URL) (augmented reality, collaborative robotics, IoT, cybersecurity) 
  • TIG (UdG) (augmented reality) 
  • GCD (UB) (big data & analytics, simulation) 
  • CRISTECH (URV) (big data & analytics, cybersecurity) 
  • DAMA (UPC) (big data & analytics, IoT, horizontal & vertical integration) 
  • EASY (UdG) (big data & analytics, IoT, horizontal & vertical Integration, cybersecurity) 
  • InLab FIB (UPC) (big data & analytics, horizontal & vertical integration, cybersecurity) 
  • MCIA (UPC) (big data & analytics) 
  • CEMIC (UB) (3D printing, collaborative robotics, IoT) 
  • CTTC (3D printing, augmented reality, big data & analytics, collaborative robotics, IoT, horizontal & vertical integration, cybersecurity) 
  • GCEM (UPC) (collaborative robotics) 
  • IIIA (CSIC) (collaborative robotics, IoT, horizontal & vertical integration) 
  • CD6 (UPC) (augmented reality, IoT) 
  • CITCEA (UPC) (IoT) 
  • GTS (UPF) (IoT) 
  • STARLAB (IoT)
  • CEPHIS (UAB) (IoT)
  • CPT (UB) (3D printing, collaborative robotics)
  • CREB (UPC) (3D printing)
  • CTQC (3D printing)
  • SARTI (UPC) (simulation)
  • VICOROB (UdG) (augmented reality, collaborative robotics)

Local and foreign firms that are applying technologies 4.0 in Catalonia

In Catalonia there are already examples of companies which have begun to adopt technologies 4.0; technological centres and leading research bodies, benchmark events and congresses, spaces for experimentation (Catalonia SmartLab), solid university studies in the area and a powerful hub of digital entrepreneurship. 

Seat has incorporated a smart logistics management system. HP has set up its worldwide 3D printing division in Catalonia. Oracle is one of the promotors of EURECAT’s centre of excellence in Big Data. Alstom has presented a technological plan to transform its new industrial centre in Santa Perpètua into the first factory 4.0 in the railway sector in the Spanish state. Worldsensing is a worldwide point of reference in developing technology for traffic light control, smart garages and public safety. The Catalan company Effitronix has developed the MICO24, a new system for real-time monitoring and controlling based in predictive maintenance. Avinent has developed a production system personalising dental implants and prosthetics. Fundiciones de Roda is the first manufacturer in the country of oleodynamic elements. 

Industrias Puigjaner S.A. (DENN) is a machine manufacturer focusing on a new business model that controls, by means of an online platform, the production of their machines thus giving new added value to their customers, thanks to predicting customer problems, anticipating any production downtime and performing predictive maintenance, among other services Gestamp has digitized its hot stamping lines, thus optimizing its processes in terms of efficiency and quality, which gives them great added value with the standardization of all its manufacturing processes in all of its manufacturing plants worldwide. CELSA Group, a Catalan iron and steel company is making a firm commitment to transform to industry 4.0 by incorporating innovation coming from startups as well as promoting entrepreneurship. Finally, TI AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEM, an automotive sector company has implemented the concept of Smart Factory in its industrial plants worldwide thanks to a solutions provider in Catalonia (TAI Smart Factory)


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Industry 4.0 refers to the digitization of industrial processes to make them more independent thanks to the use of cyber-physical systems.

Download the mapping of Industry 4.0 in Catalonia

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