Smart Industry: Revolution or Evolution?
The developments and innovations introduced by Smart Industry are running smoothly and are slowly making their way into our society. Made possible by a huge array of technologies, such as RFID tagging, automation, robotics, the cloud and machine learning, these developments will cause a widespread increase in purpose-built applications in all fields of trade and industry.
Imagine using remote-controlled drones to deliver packages, or to inspect oil or gas pipelines and to perform other check-ups. The main focus of Smart Industry, however, is on production-oriented technology. A survey conducted by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce has shown that 70 percent of all large and medium-sized companies (over 50 employees) see this shift as an opportunity to work more efficiently.
Let’s rewind a bit
How did we get here?
- It all started with the Age of Steam, also known as Industry 1.0. This development brought about mass production. Small-scale industry moved out of people’s homes and took up residence in factories.
- After that, electricity followed: Industry 2.0. Industrial productivity increased and factories were able to keep working 24/7.
- Industry 3.0: technology. Processes were automated and optimized.
- So what’s next? Time for Industry 4.0, or as we call it: Smart Industry. This trend enables an extra 1% increase in the GNP within four years (FME chairperson Ineke Dezentje, via MT).
But does this new industrial age represent a revolution or evolution? The difference compared to the previous industrial revolutions is that Smart Industry is unfolding in stages. This is mostly due to the challenges that are inherent in merging a number of technological principles to deliver optimal production results. We are talking about these four principles:
- Interoperability: machines and computers that are able to share information seamlessly.
- Virtualization: documents that provide insight into physical factory layouts and processes.
- Decentralization: autonomous decision-making by digital systems.
- Modularity: replacement or extension of system modules to improve flexibility.
Smart Industry provides opportunities
Smart Industry provides opportunities for businesses to better respond to changing customer needs and business models because the customers’ services can be optimized to improve efficiency and flexibility. In addition, this evolution has already offered dozens of applications for the proactive use of predictive maintenance. An integrated Field Service solution is indispensable in order to make full use of the opportunities provided by Smart Industry.