All of the industrial revolutions have had a a series of tools or technological advances that made them possible. The First Industrial Revolution was led by steam power. Electric energy was key to the second. Electronics and informatics extolled the third industrial revolution.
What is the basis of the so-called fourth revolution? The massive incorporation of digital technologies throughout the industry value chain is the fundamental axis of this new era. The set that makes this possible are the digital enablers. In particular, these tools allow companies to develop the digital transformation process, adapt to Industry 4.0 and the model of the smart factory. These technologies manage to link the physical world to the virtual world to make the industry an intelligent industry.
The most relevant digital enablers are:
- Internet of Things(IoT) and Cloud Computing: It’s all related. Internet of Things (IOT) allows the connection of devices through embedded or embedded systems to communicate and interact with each other as well as with centralized devices. It consists of equipping the machines and industrial objects with sensors and electronics, as well as embedded software and connectivity. Cloud Computing is based on the use of services (software and storage) in the network without physically having its own infrastructures to offer these services, which means that other infrastructures that provide these services from another geographical location are used.
- Big Data, Data Analytics and Data Mining. Data set or combinations of data sets whose size (volume), complexity (variability) and speed of growth (speed) make it difficult to capture, manage, process or analyze them using conventional tools or technologies. So, it is necessary to resort to some specific that allow their manipulation, treatment and intelligent analysis. This new data collection network brings important advances in the processes of measurement and control of the industry.
- Virtual Reality(VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). The trend is to combine real and virtual experiences. Generate an immersive experience that allows examining real-life scenarios in which to simulate aspects of productivity that need to be analyzed. Although nowadays virtual reality and augmented reality are associated with a leisure industry such as videogames, applications will be expanded to more traditional productivity environments.
- Cybersecurity. Data has become a fundamental tool for organizations, both for internal management and for operation with the market. Today more than ever, information must be protected because it is exposed to multiple environments. Cybersecurity defines all the concepts that govern security through guaranteeing the security of our movements in the network.
- Additive Manufacturing or 3D Printing.The incorporation of additive manufacturing (pieces or objects built from 3D models through the addition of materials and thanks to the use of 3d printers) to the production chains begins to be a reality, allowing greater customization in the design of the pieces to manufacture, reducing costs in the use of materials, perform rapid prototyping.
- Automation and Intelligent Robotics. They are the axes that will define the factories of the future, industries in which everything will be connected through the Internet of Things and will achieve an optimization of production and reduction of risks. Finally, production will become progressively more perfected, gaining competitiveness and flexibility through AGV(Automatic Guided Vehicle) systems.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI).Although there are currently different types of artificial intelligence, the need to implement technologies and tools that are capable of processing in real time the deluge of data that will be processed in the industrial field of the fourth industrial revolution, has led to an investigation into the implementation of Artificial Intelligence systems for this purpose. These systems have to be able to process and learn from the information they receive and act accordingly in a completely autonomous way in order to predict future results, behaviors and trends without having previously been explicitly programmed.
- 3D Simulation. The 3D simulation of production lines or logistics operations is already being used today as a tool for designing and analyzing results in many companies that want to open new production or logistics centers, or to expand or optimize the operations of existing centers. However, it is expected that these tools are key in the design and optimization of the operations of the factories of the future, so that they are capable of projecting the physical world in a virtual model from data in real time.
Wearable. Electronic devices that are incorporated in some part of the body, in the form of a garment or complement. Exploit the potential of the Internet of Things, converting physical elements into digital information for further treatment. The element missing to close the cycle of perfect production in an Industry 4.0.