Industry 4.0: Should you bet on it?

  • March 09, 2015
  • Feature

Bill Lydon’s Automation Perspective

By Bill Lydon, Editor

Industry 4.0 will be further illustrated at the upcoming 2015 Hannover Messein Germany on April 13-17, 2015. The initiative was also emphasized on February 3, 2015 at the HannoverMessepress preview in Berlin Germany.The 2015 Hannover Messepreview event was attended by over 60 journalists from more than20 countries.Industry 4.0 is Germany’s initiative to achieve the vision of integrated industry by leveraging Internet technologies, and is also referred to as the 4th Industrial Revolution.


Dr. Jochen Köckler, Member of the Board at Deutsche Messe AG, asked the question, “Are you ready the 4th Industrial Revolution?” Dr. Köckler cited survey information indicating that more than 50% of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) and Internet providers have never heard of Industry 4.0. Twenty-five percent know about Industry 4.0 but feel insufficiently informed. Dr. Köckler presented the idea that industries in Europe, USA, and Asia are dependent on Industry 4.0 for future success. Part of the 2015 Integrated Industry theme is “Join the network,” and Dr. Köckler described how multi-firm collaboration is necessary to achieve more flexible production.


Software plays a major role in Industry 4.0 cyber-physical system concepts. As a result, Microsoft will have a significant presence at 2015 Hannover Messe. Microsoft and partners will showcase end-to-end integrated industry of the future in the Digital Factory portion of Hannover Messe 2015. The exhibit will include a theater where Microsoft and industry leaders will offer a series of plenary sessions about transforming to a digital enterprise.

Process Automation

The application of Industry 4.0 process automation will be demonstrated by Endress+Hauser, ABB, JUMO, and others at the Fair. These exhibits will focus on three distinct aspects of Industry 4.0 in process automation settings: vertical integration with linkages from field level devices to business control; horizontal integration to optimize value chain outputs; and end-to-end engineering, planning, and process control.

Industry 4.0 Goals

The high level goal of Industry 4.0 is to improve manufacturing processes in a number of dimensions, including efficiency, responsiveness, and the ability to meet individual customer needs in a timely manner. Technology is becoming available to implement responsive, make-to-order manufacturing, and the economics are making it feasible to accomplish mass customization. Future manufacturing systems will be able to produce inexpensive, personalized, quantity-one orders.

The Bet!

Manufacturing investments to leverage Industry 4.0 are broad in scope and have large consequences if poor choices are made. Industry 4.0 is a systems-level approach to improve manufacturing rather than piecemeal incremental improvements. Based on my experience, a systems-level approach yields large results but it requires a significant direct and overhead investment before yielding positive return on investment.

Determining when and where to invest in new manufacturing technology has never been more risky and crucial to success.

Informed Decisions

Learn about Industry 4.0 so you can make informed decisions about how to invest and improve your manufacturing operations. A good reason to learn about Industry 4.0 is that Germany, on balance, is the most sophisticated manufacturing country in the world. The country has put a great deal of resources into developing and refining technology with strong science and business cooperation along with coordinated investment by industry, research institutions, academia, and government. The Industry 4.0 initiative is just one part of a 10-point high-tech plan in Germany’s strategy to be the leading supplier of products in a number of disciplines.

Should you bet on it?

I suggest that automation professions attend Hannover Messe to determine if Industry 4.0 is something your company needs to invest in to remain competitive.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker

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