One of the “new” buzz words around is industry 4.0 – It creates some specific hype in manufacturing because the industry starts talking about smart factories. The term refers to no less then the fourth industrial revolution. As in all previous industrial revolutions experts expect an increased living standard, more efficiency and better productivity.

little history lesson:
  • 1st industrial revolution: around 1760, UK, transformation from hand craft to machinery, increasing use of steam power, coal replaced wood
  • 2nd industrial revolution: around 1860, UK / US / Germany, mass production Ford Model T, Car manufacturing Carl Benz
  • 3rd industrial revolution: around 1970, US, first programmable logic controllers, Automotive
  • 4th industrial revolution: 2012, globally, total interconnection, digital conjunction between all areas involved in the production area


What does industry 4.0 mean?

Roland Berger describe: “industry 4.0 emphasises the idea of consistent digitisation and linking of all productive units in an economy.”

The basic understanding of experts is that machines get connected to the products they make. Yes absolutely the technology involved isn’t new but still offers some charm. It will be like magic if your supplies move through the factory to the next free workplace, if machines discuss amongst them the order of production or if some broken toys return to the factory and the machine knows instantly what to to.

Today we are already moving towards more individual production. For example Mercedes offers way over 100 different types of seat covers. Many products get produced in the wides diversity imaginable. In future we aren’t talking about mass production we will go back to small individual batches. This doesn’t mean that we stop producing in Asia but don’t be surprised if we get a couple more factories in Europe especially in UK or Portugal.

How does it work?

Industry 4.0 is the attempt to make factories more efficient. If you get your entire factory digital than you create a two way communication system. Tools know to which machine they belong, supplies know when and where they are needed and free machine capacity could be used for repair jobs. In the next step you could implement the entire company, sales, logistics, customer service and procurement. The result would be that the machine knows that a broken toy will be returned from Lincoln, they know when it will arrive at the factory and they know how what they need to repair. All in accordance with normal production procedures.


We will continue to bring you more updates on industry 4.0 and how to make smart factories soon.