Industry 4.0 is a project in the high-tech strategy of the German government, which promotes the computerization of traditional industries such as manufacturing. The goal is the intelligent factory (Smart Factory), which is characterized by adaptability, resource efficiency and ergonomics as well as the integration of customers and business partners in business and value processes.  Technological basis are cyber-physical systems and the Internet of Things.
Experts believe that Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution could be a reality in about 10 to 20 years.
Meanwhile, in the United States, an initiative known as the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition is also working on the future of manufacturing. Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC)is a non-profit organization of manufacturing practitioners, suppliers, and technology companies; manufacturing consortia; universities; government agencies and laboratories. The aim of this coalition is to enable stakeholders in the manufacturing industry to form collaborative R & D, implementation and advocacy groups for development of the approaches, standards, platforms and shared infrastructure that facilitate the broad adoption of manufacturing intelligence.
Similarly, GE has been working on an initiative called 'The Industrial Internet'. The Industrial Internet aims to bring together the advances of two transformative revolutions: the myriad machines, facilities, fleets and networks that arose from the Industrial Revolution, and the more recent powerful advances in computing, information and communication systems brought to the fore by the Internet Revolution. According to GE, together these developments bring together three elements, which embody the essence of the Industrial Internet: INTELLIGENT MACHINES, ADVANCED ANALYTICS and PEOPLE AT WORK.
The term "industrie 4.0" refers to the fourth industrial revolution. The first industrial revolution was the mechanization of production using water and steam power, it was followed by the second industrial revolution which introduced mass production with the help of electric power, followed by the digital revolution, the use of electronics and IT to further automate production.
The term was first used in 2011 at the Hanover Fair. In October 2012 the Working Group on Industry 4.0 chaired by Siegfried Dais ( Robert Bosch GmbH ) and Kagermann (acatech) presented a set of Industry 4.0 implementation recommendations to the German federal government. On 8 April 2013 at the Hanover Fair the final report of the Working Group Industry 4.0 was presented.
Characteristic for industrial production in an Industry 4.0 environment are the strong customization of products under the conditions of high flexibilized (mass-) production. The required automation technology is improved by the introduction of methods of self-optimization, self-configuration, Self-diagnosis, cognition and intelligent support of workers in their increasingly complex work. Currently the largest project in Industry 4.0 is the BMBF - Cluster of Excellence " Intelligent Technical Systems OstWestfalenLippe it's OWL ". Another major project is the BMBF project RES-COM, as well as the Cluster of Excellence "Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries".
Industry 4.0 - what it means for the future industry
Recently, McKinsey  released an interview featuring an expert discussion between executives at Robert Bosch - Siegfried Dais (Partner of the Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG) and Heinz Derenbach (CEO of Bosch Software Innovations GmbH), and McKinsey experts. This interview addressed the prevalence of the Internet of Things in manufacturing and the consequent technology-driven changes that promise to trigger a new industrial revolution. At Bosch, and generally in Germany, this phenomenon is referred to as Industry 4.0. The basic principle of Industry 4.0 is that by connecting machines, work pieces and systems, we are creating intelligent networks along the entire value chain that can control each other autonomously.
Some examples for Industry 4.0 are machines that predict failures and trigger maintenance processes autonomously or self-organized logistics that react to unexpected changes in the production.
So, what effects does this change have on the classic manufacturing value chain? According to Siegfried Dais, “it is highly likely that the world of production will become more and more networked until everything is interlinked with everything else.” While this sounds like a fair assumption and the driving force behind the Internet of Things, it also means that the complexity of production and supplier networks will grow enormously. Networks and processes have so far been limited to one factory. But in an Industry 4.0 scenario, these boundaries of individual factories will most likely no longer exist. Instead, they will be lifted in order to interconnect multiple factories or even geographical regions.
What are the challenges
1. Lack of adequate skill-sets to expedite the march towards fourth industrial revolution
2. Threat of redundancy of the corporate IT department
3. General reluctance to change by stakeholders
Role of Big Data and Analytics
Modern information and communication technologies like Cyber-Physical Systems, Big Data or Cloud Computing will help predict the possibility to increase productivity, quality and flexibility within the manufacturing industry and thus to understand advantages within the competition.
Impact of the Industry 4.0
There are many areas that are foreseen to have an impact with the advent of the fourth industrial revolution. Of which four key impact areas emerge:
1. Machine Safety
2. Industry value chain
What it means for manufacturing conglomerates
[to be updated]
Current Status of Industry 4.0
- Zukunftsprojekt Industrie 4.0
- Webseite Projektträger DLR, Last download on 08. January 2013
- T. M. Böhler:Industrie 4.0 – Smarte Produkte und Fabriken revolutionieren die Industrie. In: Produktion Magazin, 10. Mai 2012; Last download on 5. September 2012
- J. Jasperneite:Was hinter Begriffen wie Industrie 4.0 steckt. In: Computer & Automation, 19. Dezember 2012; Last download on 23. December 2012
- [The Industrial Internet, http://www.ge.com/docs/chapters/Industrial_Internet.pdf]
- Die Evolution zur Industrie 4.0 in der Produktion Last download on 14. April 2013
- Industrie 4.0: Mit dem Internet der Dinge auf dem Weg zur 4. industriellen Revolution, VDI-Nachrichten, April 2011
- Industrie 4.0 Plattform Last download on 15. Juli 2013
- Selbstkonfiguierende Automation für Intelligente Technische Systeme, Video, last download on 27. Dezember 2012
- Jasperneite, Jürgen; Niggemann, Oliver: Intelligente Assistenzsysteme zur Beherrschung der Systemkomplexität in der Automation. In: ATP edition - Automatisierungstechnische Praxis, 9/2012, Oldenbourg Verlag, München, September 2012
- Projekt RES-COM
- Webseite Exzellenzcluster "Integrative Produktionstechnik für Hochlohnländer", Last download on 15. July 2013
- The Internet of Things and the future of manufacturing,
- Industrie 4.0 – Hightech-Strategie der Bundesregierung
- Bundesministerium für Forschung und Entwicklung - Zukunftsprojekt Industrie 4.0
- Plattform Industrie 4.0
- BMBF-Spitzencluster„Intelligente technische Systeme OstwestfalenLippe it's OWL
- Exzellenzcluster Integrative Produktionstechnik für Hochlohnländer