As a historical reference, it's an interesting notion, but in practice, "Industry 4.0" is a ridiculous name for the idea of using currently available technology to solve challenges at your facility.
Many of our clients already know that CITEC is part of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a national network supported with federal funding to advance U.S. manufacturing. Every part of the country has an MEP center, and CITEC is the MEP center for the seven-county North Country region in NY. The MEP as a whole has many initiatives and priorities, and one of them is promoting Industry 4.0; the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As a historical reference, it's an interesting notion, but in practice, "Industry 4.0" is a ridiculous name for the idea of using currently available technology to solve challenges at your facility.
By referring to technological solutions as "Industry 4.0," we make it seem like an operation has to change everything to participate. While it is true that an overhaul including robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality can play a part in achieving the goals of some organizations, sometimes something as simple as a temperature gauge in a refrigerator or a vibration sensor on a machine that can alert a cell phone when certain conditions are met is all it takes to make a difference for a shop. These kinds of bluetooth solutions also count as Industry 4.0. They would have been impossible even a few years ago, and are inexpensive and effective today.
It is also the case, however, that some of the more advanced automation has become more scalable, and so, more affordable for smaller operations. For example, collecting data from your processes and then determining which is the most important data and how to use it, continues to become more and more accessible through user-friendly interfaces. Automation or co-robots can improve safety and productivity without huge investments. Simulation can save time and energy in a facility improvement process. Additive manufacturing can quickly create prototypes or tools for repairing machinery. The list goes on.
The MEP has just published a white paper about some of the ways Industry 4.0 can help SMMs. You can download it at this link.
If you suspect there are technological solutions to some of your pressing challenges, but aren't sure how to research the best options, our engineers can help. Contact us at