In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, the concept of Industry 4.0 has gained significant traction. It promises to revolutionize the way we do business, leveraging advanced technologies like automation, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT). However, before diving headfirst into Industry 4.0 strategies, it is crucial to recognize the critical role that infrastructure plays in enabling their successful implementation. This blog discusses the reality on the shop floor of many manufacturers where the underlying infastructure in place is resulting in these companies being closer to Industry 1.0 than Industry 4.0.
Reliable Network Connection:
A robust and reliable network connection is the lifeblood of any data driven initiative. It forms the backbone that connects machines, devices, and systems, facilitating seamless data transfer and real-time communication. While it may sound trivial, the reality is many manufacturers are still struggling to obtain high quality internet connections and are relying on a combination of wifi, ethernet and 4G sim cards to form the basis of their operations. Until a dependable internet connection is obtained, businesses cannot unlock the true potential of technologies like cloud computing, edge computing, and data analytics. Investing in high-speed broadband and ensuring network redundancy is essential to support the data-intensive nature of Industry 4.0 applications. The DataMinfo team recommends manufacturers engage with IT assessment providers as the first step of digitalization initiative to ensure any connectivity shortcomings are identified and addressed.
Basic Levels of Cybersecurity:
As we embrace the interconnectedness that comes with data driven manufacturing, it is imperative to prioritize cybersecurity. With increased connectivity comes an amplified risk of cyber threats and attacks. A study conducted by PwC found that 47% of industrial manufacturers worldwide reported cyber-attacks on their operational technology (OT) systems in 2019. Protecting critical data, intellectual property, and customer information is paramount. The majority of manufacturers have embraced cloud hosted systems with others have aligned to locally hosted servers. From a cyber security perspective, the DataMinfo team are seeing many manufacturers have neglected the importance of implementing basic cyber security protocols in both instances. The DataMinfo team recommends manufacturers engage with IT assessment providers as the first step of digitalization initiative to ensure any connectivity shortcomings are identified and addressed. The DataMinfo team recommends manufacturers undertake a plant wide cyber security assessment in line with the above IT assessment.
Shortage of Electricity Sockets:
With machinery and devices constantly evolving, the demand for electricity has surged. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that global electricity demand is expected to grow by an average of 1.7% per year until 2040. It may sound trivial but at the core of many Industry 4.0 initiatives are IoT devices that each require a reliable power outlets. In reality, many manufacturers have extended their facility over many years on a phase by phase basis. This has resulted in a shortage of electricity sockets near machinery and an overuse of extension leads across the shop floor. Prioritizing the availability and distribution of power outlets, along with implementing energy-efficient solutions, is vital to meet the increasing power demands of Industry 4.0 technologies. The DataMinfo team recommends engaging with facility teams in manufacturers as early as possible when discussing introducing data driven systems that require power outlets to record data.
Industry 4.0 presents tremendous opportunities for businesses to enhance productivity, drive innovation, and gain a competitive edge. However, reaping the benefits of this transformative era requires a strong and reliable infrastructure foundation. By investing in a robust internet connection, bolstering cybersecurity measures and addressing shortages of electricity sockets, organizations can lay the groundwork for successful Industry 4.0 implementations. By doing so, they can unlock the full potential of advanced technologies, driving growth, efficiency, and resilience in an increasingly digitized world.
- International Telecommunication Union (ITU), "Percentage of individuals using the internet, by country or area." (2020). Retrieved from https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx
- Statista, "Number of connected devices worldwide in 2018 and 2025." (2021). Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1101604/iot-number-of-connected-devices-worldwide/
- PwC, "The Global State of Information Security® Survey 2020." Retrieved from https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/issues/cyber-security/information-security-survey.html
- International Energy Agency (IEA), "Electricity." (2021). Retrieved from https://www.iea.org/topics/electricity