Industry 4 definition – the confusion

Industry 4 definition- is there a single one ?

The reality is that your requirements decide your Industry 4 definition, and there is no single one. Industry 4.0 is not an ABSOLUTE definition. It is the TREND towards automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies and processes which include cyber-physical systems (CPS), IoT, and cloud computing, with software making a lot of decisions that humans used to make earlier.

At its most basic, Industry 4 is what you see in the picture below. It is:
– Data, direct from your machine, in a form that you understand.
– The software doing a lot of analysis of the data and taking decisions to help you.

Industry 4 definition in graphical form

There is a set of design principles that define Industry 4.0
Interoperability: The ability of machines, devices, sensors, and people to communicate with each other over the Internet.
Information transparency: The ability to capture activities of machines through electronic sensors, store this data, and process it for other purposes.
Technical assistance: First, the ability to support humans by reporting and alerting, so that humans can and take decisions. Second, the ability to support humans by performing tasks that are unpleasant, exhausting, or unsafe.
Decentralized decisions: The ability to make decisions and perform tasks as autonomously (independent of humans) as possible. Decisions and tasks are delegated to humans only if they are very difficult or involve conflicting goals. The extent to which each of these principles is implemented can vary, and will increase as years go by, as technology advances.

In sum, Industry 4 is any automation system in industry that is characterized by the capture, transfer and analysis of data using sensors connected to machines, the internet and cloud. It is a broad definition, and does not include any absolutes or measures like how much interoperability, how much technical assistance, etc.

Your specific Industry 4 definition will be based on:
– Your pain points
– Your budget
– Ability to make culture changes in your organization
– Benefits that you want to see

What Industry 4 is NOT

  • There is nothing like an Industry 4 standard
    The moment you connect your machine to your computers and can see what it is up to at any time, that is Industry 4.0.
  • There is nothing like ‘Industry 4 compliant’
    After you connect machines to your computers, you decide what features you want to add, based on benefits that you see from each.
  • There is no end to Industry 4
    You can add any number of capabilities to your system.
  • There are no specific technologies that your system needs to have
    There is this misconception that Industry 4 compulsorily includes Additive manufacturing (3D printing), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Robots, and automated machines. This is wrong.


The beautiful Old City of Ahmedabad

The Old city part of Ahmedabad is 600 years old, built by Ahmad Shah I (after whom the city itself is named). It is roughly square, about 3 km x 3 km. It had a fortified wall all around to protect against invaders, with 21 large gates. The gates still exist though the (presumably) wooden shutters don’t.

Amazingly, the city has survived almost unchanged since it was built. It is a collection of around 360 Pols, or residential colonies. Each Pol in turn had a gate for its protection, and homes were closely packed so people could actually move between homes on the roof top – must have been a nightmare for attackers. If town planning focused so much on defences, it makes one wonder how much time rulers of various kingdoms spent attacking each other versus sitting around and relaxing (or maybe it’s because they didn’t have TV and potato chips then, and didn’t know what to do with their time).

The houses in the Pols used a lot of wood in the construction, much of it crumbling now of course. In keeping with the architecture of those days, form is as important as function in the architecture here, and there’s art in the most unlikely places and structures. Each Pol also has a little square for people to hang around in, around a Chabutro or bird feeder.

One of the gates

The narrow streets in the Pols do not allow movement of cars, and barely allow scooters and bikes. The Pols are therefore cozy, peaceful places with children playing in the streets and cows lazing around.

The Old City is now a UNESCO Heritage City, and hence seeing a lot of revival and reconstruction.

About his blog from LEANworx: Plug-and-play Industry 4.0 system for MSMEs.

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