Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Industry 4.0 | University of West Florida
Skip to main content

Industry 4.0

So what is next for manufacturers?  It can be a little confusing with all the new technological advancements.  Who can keep up?  Some of the buzzwords you may hear include terms like Smart Automation, Industry 4.0, and Industry 5.0.  Can anyone define what this means, is there a roadmap, what does it look like?

First, we need to step back in time.  When we hear the term industrial revolution used, several key factors come to mind that have shaped the manufacturing landscape and brought great advancements for industry. 

four icons representing steam powered mechanical production, mass production, automated production and intelligent production

  • 1st industrial revolution (18th Century) – Mechanical production equipment powered by steam
  • 2nd industrial revolution (19th Century) – Mass production assembly lines labor and electrical energy
  • 3rd industrial revolution (20th Century) – Automated production using electronics and IT

The 4th Industrial revolution is more about automation and integrated networks, which includes the use of devices and sensors that can collect data for data analytics.  Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a one size fits all roadmap for companies to follow on how to achieve Industry 4.0 or beyond. 

For more information on Industry 4.0 and 5.0, see the articles provided below.  Another resource for manufacturers who are not sure where to start, they can contact their local MEP (Manufacturing Extension Partnership) network in their state.  To find out more about the MEP program and how to contact your local MEP office, visit their website.  

Icons representing nine industries of Industry 4.0

Nine Technologies are Transforming Industrial Production

Autonomous Robots: A robot that is designed and engineered to deal with its environment on its own, and work for extended periods of time without human intervention.

Simulation: An approximate imitation of the operation of a process or system; that represents its operation over time. 

Horizontal and Vertical System Integration: Full digitization (digital thread) of a company’s operations that’s integrated to every function internal to the organization (vertical) and linking the suppliers, partners, and distributors (horizontal) in the value chain and transferring data among them seamlessly.

The Industrial Internet of Things: Provides visibility and insight into a business’s operations and assets through integration of machine sensors, middleware, software and backend cloud compute and storage systems. Allows for a higher degree of automation by using cloud computing to refine and optimize process controls.

Cybersecurity: Protection of computer systems and manufacturing lines from the theft of or damage to their hardware, software, or electronic data, as well as from the disruption or misdirection of the services they provide from cybersecurity threats.

The Cloud: On-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user for more data driven services and sharing across sites and company boundaries.

Additive Manufacturing: The process builds a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design (CAD) model, to produce prototype parts or small batches of customized products that offer construction advantages, such as complex, lightweight designs.

Augmented Reality: An enhanced version of reality where live direct or indirect views of physical real-world environments with superimposed computer-generated images over a user’s view of the world.

Big Data and Analytics: Collection and analysis of data from many different sources to support real-time decision-making processes.

Source: BCG analysis