You may have heard of the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but most people have a much more straightforward name for it: Industry 4.0.
It simply refers to the way automation and smart technology will soon be used to change the way goods are produced, as well as the way that businesses of all sizes operate on a fundamental level. It’s built on the principle of interconnection – meaning that it thrives on the ability of not only machines but also devices, sensors and even people to connect and communicate with one another at all times. Thanks to the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 will soon grow to encompass mobile devices, advanced human-machine interfaces, augmented reality, data visualization and much, much more.
It’s also a trend that is picking up steam in more ways than one. According to one recent study, the global market for Industry 4.0 is expected to hit an enormous $300 billion by as soon as 2023 – and that is something that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Industry 4.0 is Here. Embrace It
The number above represents an incredible increase in market size of 384% from just a few years earlier, in 2018. That same study also revealed that as of 2020, roughly a third of all production processes and equipment – and even non-production processes and equipment – had already incorporated some type of “smart” technology of some kind.
Over the last few years, the Industry 4.0 applications that have increased in use the most are the ones that, on the surface, make the most sense from a short-term perspective. Business intelligence and advanced analytics tools are particularly popular, especially thanks to the proactive and predictive maintenance benefits they bring with them.
But another recent study revealed that it takes just two years on average for a company that invests in Industry 4.0 to see their investments begin to be returned. Between 2016 and 2020, the automotive industry in particular was able to reduce its costs by a collective $28 billion – and it has Industry 4.0 principles and best practices directly to thank.
Soon, there will come a day when smart factories have become the new norm – allowing systems and humans to communicate with one another even over large distances in real-time, thus empowering the value chain as much as possible. “Predictive maintenance” will simply become how we define “maintenance” thanks to the ubiquitous nature of the Internet of Things. There’s a reason why experts are already saying that Industry 4.0 will mark the beginning of the true Imagination Age – we really are on the precipice of something significant, here, and it couldn’t have come along at a more important moment.
When you think about how far Industry 4.0 has come in even just the last five years, it’s truly exciting to think about what the next five (and beyond) have in store for us all.
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