More and more often we hear about Industry 4.0, IoT (Internet of Things) and Big Data. These definitions will become more and more established in the near future. Let's find out together what this is about and how these 3 sectors represent the evolution, not only of industry, but also of everyday life.
Industry 4.0 is based on computer systems that interact with the company's machinery, boasting communication, control and computational capabilities. We can speak of Industry 4.0 when companies use tools related to the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data. These are absolutely innovative and cutting-edge technologies, able to implement and improve every business model. Let's see in detail how these areas interact with each other.
IoT and Big Data: two enabling technologies for Industry 4.0
There is no Industry 4.0 without its main enabling technologies: the Internet of Things and Big Data. Typical examples of intelligent objects are all devices capable of capturing and storing information about the physical environment, facilitating their networked communication. Nowadays any object can be equipped with these smart devices aimed at collecting and processing useful information about the environment in which they are present. Thanks to the development and availability of high-capacity wireless networks, it is also possible for everyone to configure and receive output about their surroundings. It is not only a technology aimed at the industrial world, but is also extended to the everyday life of all of us. Just think of all the smart devices that accompany us every day, from mobile phones to tablets to wearable items. These devices can generate and collect data, transmit it over the network and receive remote input. The mission of IoT is, therefore, to connect physical and technological devices together, allowing humans to interact with them both at short and long distance.
As a result of the increasing use of smart IoT objects, the availability of raw data generated from them is constantly and exponentially increasing. These are the so-called Big Data. While such a large amount of available data is certainly a great opportunity to take advantage of, it is absolutely necessary to understand how to manage, integrate and use it. That's when Big Data Analysis becomes the main means to make the most of the data collected.
The circular process of Industry 4.0
The interaction between objects, people, services and data is perpetual and represents a fundamental pillar of Industry 4.0. Through this interaction there is a continuous circular process consisting of 3 main steps: data production, data analysis, maintenance and reconfiguration of production processes. The cover picture schematically illustrates the environment of Industry 4.0. As already pointed out, the scope of the circular process is different. It can be used for a single production process or for the activities of several departments.
Benefits in several directions
The company's internal adoption of this process certainly leads to an objective improvement in company performance and efficiency, especially in terms of vertical integration. But if the adoption of IoT and Big Data Analysis were to expand, the positive influence would fall on horizontal integration, representing a real and optimal advantage for the entire business chain. Widening the interaction even further, and also addressing customers, the data collected and analyzed would be the main driver of the evolution of high value-added business models.
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*[Research Image 08/2016 - Absolombardia - Insight into Enabling Technologies Industry 4.0].