As the world continues to revolve on its axis, industry keeps on changing. Steam, electricity, assembly lines, and automation have all changed the way in which humans work. By embracing the way that the industry of manufacturing is going forward now into the future, new and newer developments—especially in the way that humans and machines continue to work together—are shaping the tech landscape, new markets, and the fate of manufacturing in general.
Some companies are fearful that the manner in which they’ve always conducted business, if they’re not able to make the changes conducive to this new frontier, will be a thing of the past. And in some reality, they will be. Times are changing. Certain processes will be left behind. Comfort may get thrown out the window with no regard, especially when the promise and payout of emerging industries will be paramount.
If you are hoping to usher your business into the new horizons and the future of manufacturing and the promise of the Internet, understanding the distinction between Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet will be valuable. The distinctions between the two are notable. Once you add these terms and their understanding to your lexicon, your business will begin to better be able to transverse the new territory of this new and unfolding frontier.
Let’s first parse out what is different about each of these two terms. Industry 4.0 (Industrie 4.0 in Germany) and the Industrial Internet are roughly equivalent, but they are not the same thing. Nor should these words be used interchangeably.
Industry 4.0 is the fourth rendition of the original Industrial Revolution. This term coined by the German government is the most robust European enabling project.
Dr. Kris Bledowski penned The Internet of Things: Industrie 4.0 vs. the Industrial Internet and details that Industry 4.0 is a decentralized production chain that stretches from design all the way through supply chain, manufacturing, distribution, and customer service. Cyber-physical-systems (CPS) employs software- and internet-enhanced machines that communicate in real time to limit errors and failures and help raise efficiency.
Basically, instead of allowing humans to take care of all of the work, certain systems that may not require the critical thinking and intuitive skills so important to the connection of being human, these jobs will transition to work that is carried out by software, instead. While there are concerns about data security, reliability, stability, work integrity, and the loss of high-paying jobs for humans, the benefits of a world that embraces Industry 4.0 looks the brightest.
The Industrial Internet (which is also referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things) is the brainchild of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), which was founded by many companies, one of which was General Electric (GE). Originally, GE coined the term “Industrial Internet” back in 2012, and they were harking to the fiscal possibilities that the market of the Internet could be a $225 billion market by the year 2020.
How could they be more certain that this would have the potential to become a reality? Streamlining development, adoption, and the use of widespread machines could help keep people in work as they worked alongside and used intelligent analytics. Incorporating new pieces of technology and technology systems streamlines business in ways that humans cannot quite get at with their own two hands. Compared to Industry 4.0, the scope of the Industrial Internet is similar, but the horizon of the Industrial Internet stretches even further beyond the horizon of manufacturing.
The Industrial Internet is all about transforming industry, literally reformatting the ways that certain industries work. Whereas Industry 4.0 is focused in terms of manufacturing, the Industrial Internet has transformative powers in the spheres of power and energy, oil and gas, manufacturing, healthcare, aviation, and many others. The Industrial Internet has a wider reach than solely Industry 4.0.
As of now the Industrial Internet is already in effect, but only 5% of companies have succeeded in their own digital transformations. Platforms that help reach more businesses and individuals are useful tools, especially as these other businesses are hoping to be on par with the level of success needed so they’re not left behind. The possibility (and the potential) of the Industrial Internet will be forthcoming in the future, but there are ways your company can jump on board and get started now.
As technology advances, the needs of companies will require them to become more digitized. Why is that exactly? Since analytics play such a role in predicting trends and documenting activity, having digital data is much easier to track. Plus, analytics help determine just how business performance stacks up. If certain analytic softwares aren’t in place, companies will surely miss out on crucial information that could have benefited their bottom line or pointed out trends they otherwise might have missed.
Software will be so highly intelligent, focused, and specific, certain outcomes you may not have seen coming, will help transfer businesses from more of a reactive standpoint (which is the stance from which most businesses operate from now) to a proactive stance, instead. Imagine how this would increase savings in the terms of business efficiency, unscheduled maintenance costs, and assets. Wouldn’t you like to begin using software that could aid your business and help increase both your savings and profits?
With both of these concepts—Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet—big gains are the hope for the future. The world is unfolding in a new frontier now and at times it can seem like the only speed available is cruise control, but cruise control’s only speed option: breakneck.
Both of these concepts understand basic underlying factors. Machines, analytics, and people will need to continue to work together to keep up a constant momentum. This momentum—and there will be a great force of momentum created from these initiatives—will catapult the world into a new frontier. Antiquated systems are ready for an overhaul. Especially when there are other ways to take care of business.
The ways in which our planet is using, buying, sharing, consuming, and creating is at an incredible peak right now. There is capital to be made by investing in this high level of activity. The goals of both of these programs—Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet—is to increase efficiency, integrate people with machines, and constantly learn from the data and the analytics these systems produce.