Industry 4.0 is the brainchild of the German government and describes the next phase in manufacturing, known as the post information revolution. I came across a great primer from Boston Consulting Group that neatly describes the nine pillars of technological advancement that underpin Industry 4.0, all of which IT professionals must understand in order to effectively compete in the next 10-20 years.
Big Data and Analytics
In manufacturing, analytics optimizes production quality, saves energy, and improves equipment service. According to BSG, in an Industry 4.0 context, the collection and comprehensive evaluation of data from many different sources—production equipment and systems as well as enterprise- and customer-management systems—will become standard to support real-time decision making.
Robots in manufacturing are evolving for even greater utility, becoming more autonomous, flexible, and cooperative. Eventually, says BSG, they will interact with one another and work safely side by side with humans. These robots will cost less and have a greater range of capabilities than those used in manufacturing today.
3D simulations of products, materials, and production processes are already used in the engineering phase of manufacturing, but in the future, simulations will be used in plant operations as well. These simulations will leverage real-time data to mirror the physical world in a virtual model. Operators will be able to test and optimize machine settings in the virtual world before the physical changeover, driving down machine setup times and increasing quality.
For more where this came from, head over to Intuit's Fast Track blog.