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September 25, 2022

Super User

Super User

Dr Mohd Syahiran Abdul Latif

We are at the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution. Known as Industry 4.0, it is proving to be a turning point for the automotive industry. While most automotive facilities are in a phase of evolving seamless human–machine connectedness,

Industry 4.0 might sound like a SimCity-style tycoon game, but it's really the biggest shift to hit global manufacturing since automation. Centered around advanced robotics and automation,

New Industry 4.0 technologies, spanning mobile computing to cloud computing, have undergone vast development in the last decade and are now ready to be used as commercially available, interconnected systems within manufacturing – this is Industry 4.0. It holds the key to accessing real-time results and data that will catapult the industry into new levels of lean achievements.

The concept of Industry 4.0 however, is not a simple one. It envelops many technologies and is used in a variety of different contexts. There are five pieces that define Industry 4.0 at its core. Each piece is similar in nature but, when integrated together, create capability that has never before been possible. In an effort to understand Industry 4.0, the following five terms are explained as they contribute to the next industrial revolution:

1. Big Data

As per Forbes, Big Data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis. Today data is collected everywhere, from systems and sensors to mobile devices. The challenge is that the industry is still in the process of developing methods to best interpret data. It’s the evolution of Industry 4.0 that will change the way organizations and solutions within those organizations work together; teams will be able to make better, smarter decisions.

2. Smart Factory

The concept of Smart Factory is the seamless connection of individual production steps, from planning stages to actuators in the field. In the near future, machinery and equipment will be able to improve processes through self-optimization; systems will autonomously adapt to the traffic profile and network environment. Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), are an integral part of the Smart Factory, as their autonomous intelligence connects the factory together, allowing seamless operations. 

Leading by example is the Siemens Electronic Works facility in Amberg, Germany. Smart machines coordinate production and global distribution or a built-to-order process involving roughly 1.6 billion components. When the Smart Factory is achieved, it will represent a pivotal shift for Industry 4.0, as the revolution will begin to roll out across multiple verticals. Various markets spanning healthcare to consumer goods will adapt Industry 4.0 technologies initially modelled in the Smart Factory.

3. Cyber Physical Systems

Cyber physical systems are integrations of computation, networking and physical processes. Computers and networks monitor and control physical processes with feedback loops; the physical system reacts, the system uses software to interpret actions and tracks results. The notion centers on computers and software being embedded in devices where the first use is not computation; rather it is a loop of action and machine learning.

4. Internet of Things (IoT)

The internet of things is a simple term for a grandiose concept. IoT is the connection of all devices to the internet and each other. As Wired said, “it’s built on cloud computing and networks of data-gather sensors; it’s mobile, virtual, and instantaneous connection.” This interconnection will enable “smart factories” to take shape as equipment will use data to manufacture, move, report and learn at astounding rates, efficiently. Click here to learn how the industrial IoT drives productivity in factories.

5. Interoperability

Interoperability is in essence what happens when we bring the above elements together. It is the connection of cyber-physical systems, humans and smart factories communicating with each other through the IoT. In doing so, manufacturing partners can effectively share information, error-free. Consider that no single company can dictate all its partners use the same software or standards for how the information is represented. Interoperability enables error-free transmission and translation.

From 3D prints to self-driving vehicles, Industry 4.0 technologies are propelling the manufacturing industry with new means of efficiency, accuracy and reliability. The level of intelligence offered today is only the beginning for what is to come.

The 5 Factors of Industry 4.0 in Practice

Self-driving vehicles (SDVs) are a primary example of this technological evolution. Compared to their predecessors (autonomous guided vehicles), SDVs offer industrial centers increased flexibility and efficiency, higher throughput rates, and a faster return on investment. They move through plants with purpose, finding the most efficient route to their final destination by way of infrastructure-free navigation (no beacons, magnetic tape or cables). Onboard intelligence provides obstacle avoidance to ensure safe, collaborative work environments. Meanwhile, SDVs such as OTTO also offer intuitive light signals, much like vehicles on outdoor roads, to effectively communicate behaviors like turning, stopping, or parking. SDVs collect and share data from within the fleet, whether that fleet is used in one facility or many. Therefore, executives have visibility of real-time data and are able to make informed, educated decisions to positively impact KPIs and grow of their operation.

SDVs are only one example of how Industry 4.0 is going to transform the manufacturing sector. This industrial revolution will collect, use and share data so that industry can reach new heights in safety and efficiency, driving the sector closer to the ultimate goal of lights-out manufacturing.

Manufacturers must do things differently to win market share in today’s environment because it is not enough to maintain the status quo. To survive and thrive, manufacturers must focus on growth. One of the ways manufacturers can achieve growth is by leveraging Industry 4.0 technologies.

Industry 4.0 is all about doing things differently — introducing automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, and cloud computing.The goal is the "smart factory" with cyber-physical systems capable of autonomously exchanging information, triggering actions, and controlling each other independently. This facilitates fundamental improvements to the industrial processes involved in manufacturing, engineering, material usage, asset performance and management, and supply chain and lifecycle management.


While there is a great deal of discussion on the various technology enablers of Industry 4.0, I feel it’s more crucial to reframe the discussion around the business benefits. Industry 4.0 isn’t a technology initiative. It’s the future of manufacturing as we know it. It’s not just about improved performance and efficiency; investments into new manufacturing technologies enhance agility, flexibility, and speed-to-market when designing and launching new products and services.

Adopting an Industry 4.0 approach also provides the means to navigate change. Manufacturers are reinventing their business models to focus on value-added services, and/or entering new geographic markets or adjacent market segments. Today’s Industry 4.0-outfitted factories are empowered to drive productivity and keeps costs down while ensuring quality and consistency across manufacturing processes globally.

From a business perspective, Industry 4.0 supports four major tenets of operational execution:

  • Interoperability
  • Information Transparency
  • Actionable Insights
  • Automation

These tenets in turn, support several business imperatives. These include:

Scalability: Automation in the factory gives manufacturers the ability to transition personnel to more value-added activities, and provides the foundation to extend and expand product and service offerings. As they look to expand globally, automation maintains process consistency across locations.

This also allows manufacturers to focus on what they do best to find and refine their sweet spot. This moves manufacturers into a more advantageous position from taking on every job to taking on those jobs the organization can do well, while achieving the best profit margins.

Cloud technology is central to Industry 4.0. It allows manufacturers to scale operations by focusing more on core competencies versus IT operations. Many small to mid-market manufacturers have limited IT staffs; they must be very strategic with IT resources. The cloud is the great IT equalizer — giving small and mid-market enterprises access to leading software capabilities, while freeing them from having to monitor and manage infrastructure. The cloud also gives manufacturers the ability to spin up computing power, providing agility to help organizations “rise to the occasion” when needed.


Security and Redundancy: As digitization in the factory continues, security implications grow and a sophisticated and layered approach to security is critical. This is challenging for manufacturers who may not have the security resources in-house to adequately address this growing challenge. Again, leveraging a cloud-hosted software model can give manufacturers the ability to confidently charge forward in their Industry 4.0 initiatives.


Control and Visibility: In an increasingly complex and global manufacturing enterprise, a single digital thread across all operations is needed to support responsiveness, improve collaboration, reduce risk, and streamline compliance requirements. Visibility from order entry to inventory to finished product is required to inform customers, partners and other stakeholders as to status at any time.

Customer Experience: This visibility is key to provide the omni-channel order and fulfillment options that customers demand today. It’s also critical to support co-creation — the ability to collaborate with customers and suppliers. Making business processes transparent and/or open to engagement from customers and suppliers can support improved satisfaction, stronger relationships and loyalty.

Customization: Mass market manufacturing has given way to personalization and customization. This entails shorter production runs and the need to switch out lines more often. Manufacturers need to be able to configure and reconfigure the shop floor quickly and easily to avoid expensive machine and line downtime. Velocity is the new business currency.

Technologies such as augmented reality can help reduce lag time between design and production. 3-D printing is pivotal in this area. To date, the use case for rapid prototyping has proved to be a game changer, and other broader use cases are now coming into focus. These include 3-D printing for spares or replacement parts — providing the ability to improve responsiveness for customers at a time of need.

Additionally, manufacturers also benefit from 3-D printing of replacement parts — another game-changing value proposition when you consider all the benefits — reducing the acquisition time and cost of parts, especially for old or obsolete parts, andenabling manufacturers to implement speedy repairs that significantly reduce downtime while extending equipment shelf-life and return on investment.

Innovation: Crucially, manufacturers need to address whether the business systems they have in place are ready to support the journey toward Industry 4.0. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), and Computer Aided Drafting/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) all must be integrated to support the move toward increased digitization and customization.

So many organizations are spending many IT cycles on integration (a necessary evil), which takes away from their ability to focus on innovation (competitive advantage). This integration albatross is the subject of a study by Accenture, who reports a typical IT budget may allocate up to 90% to maintaining the current state and just 10% on innovating — a “technology debt” that is bankrupting competitive advantage.


The boundaries between production and management must disappear, and ERP, MES and other critical systems must form an integrated unit if businesses are to realize the growth opportunities presented by this new age of intelligent manufacturing. Evaluating the existing IT environment is the first step to understanding how ready — or unprepared — manufacturers are for Industry 4.0.

An accomplished marketing professional with broad experience in the manufacturing and supply chain sectors, Terri Hiskey is vice president of Product Marketing for Manufacturing at Epicor Software, a provider of ERP solutions for 20,000 customers worldwide.


By: Terri Hiskey

You likely keep hearing a lot about the internet of things (IoT) and how it will change the way you manage your equipment and facilities. Collecting and analyzing data will become increasingly important to manufacturing plans and activities. Data integrity and value will become critical to success in manufacturing, business, and safety.

So now is the time to build your confidence and understanding of your materials, technologies, and processes. Complacency is the single greatest risk of any IoT implementation.

I have heard many IoT presentations given by speakers who mention “our great data analysts” or “our huge database.” But not one has mentioned having confidence in their organization’s deep understanding of materials, equipment, and processes. “Data analysis” and “big data” may just be convenient talking points, but they also can indicate an unrealistic reliance on technology for its own sake.

American business history is full of epic failures due to complacency about information. Bad things happen when employees do what is convenient, or sometimes self-serving, instead of what is right. Too often, a simple review by a knowledgeable employee can prevent disaster by uncovering both malicious and lazy mistakes. Here are a few examples.

Understand Your Industry

In the early 1960s, American Express lost half its market capitalization because it financed Allied Crude Vegetable Oil Refining Co. based on falsified documents. Allied claimed to have a massive inventory of soybean oil in its refinery and offshore in ships. Auditors verified the inventory, unaware that the inventory was a couple inches of oil floated on top of sea water.

Had the auditors actually done their homework, they would have known that Allied’s claimed inventory exceeded the total national inventory of soybean oil.

Watch for Internal Misuse of Information

Enron and its certified public accountants at Arthur Anderson scammed investors of billions of dollars by fraudulently reporting financial activities, resulting in both companies going out of business. While you hear a lot about external threats to your data, internal personnel and third-party contractors are your greatest risk. History is full of stories about internal misuse of data:

  • In 2014 an Uber employee used the company’s God View application to track the whereabouts of a journalist.
  • In 2013 Minnesota police officers were found to be using state driver’s license records to track family and girlfriends.
  • In 2013 employees at ATT international call centers were caught selling customers’ personal information.
  • In 2015 a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley downloaded and misused information about the company’s most wealthy clients.

Install the Right Sensors

A BP refinery in Texas City, Texas, exploded because a sensor reading was missed, and the sensor was inadequate for the risks posed by the fluids it monitored.

A sensor that monitored the levels of a volatile chemical was supposed to warn operators when the fluid level reached 2.5 meters in the tank. Unfortunately, the warning occurred during a shift change and wasn’t noticed. Also, after the level reached 3 m, the sensor no longer issued the warning.

As a result, a volatile chemical was released into the air, was aspirated into the combustion chamber of a nearby truck, and caused a massive explosion.

Trust Engineering, Train Your Employees, and Understand Software Limitations

The failures of Boeing’s 737 Max are well-documented. In an effort to respond to competitive pressure, the company upgraded a 50-year-old airframe but tried to maintain the flying characteristics of the older 737s to prevent pilots from having to recertify. New engines needed to be repositioned, creating an issue with the plane’s aerodynamics.

Among the many issues that led to the death of hundreds of passengers and crew, these are notable for your own operations:

  • Boeing installed a software component (MCAS) to compensate for the aircraft’s issue with physics, but the system relied on a single attitude sensor, ignoring the common practice of using redundant sensors and controls.
  • Pilots commonly complained that they were inadequately trained in using the new aircraft systems.
  • The MCAS system overrode pilot instructions, leading to the crashes of a Lion Air Flight 610 (189 dead) and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 (157 dead).

These are obviously extreme examples of failures caused by poor implementation, inadequate or failed monitoring, and intentional misuse of data. These failures, however, demonstrate that the consequences of complacency and inadequate training are not only real, but can be threatening to your business and your employees. When you implement IoT in your plant, your most important tasks will include training, planning, and ensuring the integrity of the data you use to support decisions.


By: Bill Frahm

Do all cows’ faces look the same to you? They don’t to systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Bovine facial recognition technology, developed through a strategic partnership between

In Tennessee, the owners of a farm dating back to the mid-1800s are changing how they grow food in dramatic ways. Drones, satellite imagery, and precision farming are part of the technology being used to improve costs, yield,

The farming industry will become more important than ever before in the next few decades. The UN projects that the world's population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050, causing global agricultural production to rise 69% between 2010 and 2050. To meet this demand, farmers and agricultural companies are turning to the Internet of Things for analytics and greater production capabilities.

Technological innovation in farming is nothing new. Handheld tools were the standards hundreds of years ago, and then the Industrial Revolution brought about the cotton gin. The 1800s brought about grain elevators, chemical fertilizers, and the first gas-powered tractor. Fast forward to the late 1900s, when farmers start using satellites to plan their work.

The IoT is set to push the future of farming to the next level. Smart agriculture is already becoming more commonplace among farmers, and high tech farming is quickly becoming the standard thanks to agricultural drones and sensors. 

Below, we've outlined IoT applications in agriculture and how "Internet of Things farming" will help farmers meet the world's food demands in the coming years.

High Tech Farming: Precision Farming & Smart Agriculture

Farmers have already begun employing some high tech farming techniques and technologies in order to improve the efficiency of their day-to-day work. For example, sensors placed in fields allow farmers to obtain detailed maps of both the topography and resources in the area, as well as variables such as acidity and temperature of the soil. They can also access climate forecasts to predict weather patterns in the coming days and weeks.

Farmers can use their smartphones to remotely monitor their equipment, crops, and livestock, as well as obtain stats on their livestock feeding and produce. They can even use this technology to run statistical predictions for their crops and livestock.

And drones have become an invaluable tool for farmers to survey their lands and generate crop data.

As a concrete example, John Deere (one of the biggest names in farming equipment) has begun connecting its tractors to the Internet and has created a method to display data about farmers' crop yields. Similar to smart cars, the company is pioneering self-driving tractors, which would free up farmers to perform other tasks and further increase efficiency.

All of these techniques help make up precision farming or precision agriculture, the process of using satellite imagery and other technology (such as sensors) to observe and record data with the goal of improving production output while minimizing cost and preserving resources.

Future of Farming: IoT, Agricultural Sensors, & Farming Drones

Smart agriculture and precision farming are taking off, but they could just be the precursors to even greater use of technology in the farming world.

The rise of blockchain technology is making its way to the IoT, and could be important in the farming sector due to its ability to provide companies with important data on crops. Farmers can use sensors to gather data about crops, which is written onto blockchain, and includes identifying factors as well as salt and sugar content and pH levels.

Business Insider Intelligence projects there to be nearly 12 million agricultural sensors installed globally by 2023. Additionally, tech giant IBM estimates that the average farm can generate half a million data points per day – helping farmers to improve yields and increase profits.

Given all of the potential benefits of these IoT applications in agriculture, it's understandable that farmers are increasingly turning to agricultural drones and satellites for the future of farming.

Drones allow farmers to monitor how far along crops are in their respective growth periods. Additionally, farmers can spray ailing crops via drones with substances to bring them back to life. DroneFly estimates that drones can spray fertilizer 40 to 60 times faster than doing so by hand.


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