Industry 4.0 is a Cloudy Topic

Bitb519 Industry 4.0 is a cloudy topic

It's an interesting exercise occasionally to do a Google news search on 'cloud computing' and 'Australia' to see what's hot on the topic in our fair land.

Today I came across one hot-off-the-digital-press article from Manufacturers Monthly headed "Technology reshaping manufacturing." What it had to say about cloud was accurate and appropriate. For example: "A cloud platform means extra computing capacity can be 'dialled up' when required. ... If a large design job requires extra computing and storage resources for a limited time, that extra capacity can be used and then discarded once the job is complete. Computing becomes an operational expense in the same way as electricity or water."

It then went on to talk about another technology that will certainly reshape manufacturing, and much else besides: The Internet of Things. "Another mega trend that has significant potential for manufacturers is the emerging Internet of Things (IoT). While we have already seen significant growth in communication between machines and other devices over the Internet this is set to shift from being piecemeal to pervasive."

Quite right, and so is this: "IoT will allow an even greater level of automation. Already mining companies are examining the potential for driver-less trucks and trains while delivery companies are investigating the use of pilot-less drone aircraft, and sensors log inventory in and out of a warehouse making manual stocktake obsolete. Such changes will gradually become ubiquitous."

Unfortunately the article did not take the next step where both these technologies, and much else come together and create a force that will redefine manufacturing, not just reshape it.

That force is Industry 4.0.

It's called 4.0 on the basis that Industry 1.0 was ushered in by the Industrial Revolution, Industry 2.0 by electricity-enabled mass production and Industry 3.0 by digital technology. You can find a lengthy, but not overly helpful, article on Wikipedia. Its opening sentence is singularly unenlightening:...

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