A Closer Look at Theme Industry 4.0

By Alex Lawrence, Senior Research Manager, GSMA

Industry 4.0 is the digital transformation of industrial markets, with smart manufacturing currently at the forefront. While originally referring just too manufacturing industries, today Industry 4.0 as a term is used to represent the so-called fourth industrial revolution in:

  • Discrete and process manufacturing
  • the chemical industry
  • Energy (Energy 4.0)
  • Transportation
  • Utilities
  • Oil and gas
  • Mining and metals
    … and so on.

There is some debate about whether there actually is a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ under way – the argument against being that industry has always used advanced technology to create more automated and carefully-monitored systems. Certainly, this is a reasonable argument when looked at purely through the lens of Operations Technology (OT), the monitoring and management systems used in factories today. These are designed to gain the most productivity and reliability from a factory’s assets. While services like NB-IoT can be used to improve the instrumentation on machines and help with tasks such as predictive maintenance, such activities can also be performed using other wireless or even wireline interfaces.

Image courtesy of Christoph Roser at AllAboutLean.com

However, this argument focuses purely on the adoption of technology, while industry 4.0 advocates will point to much more fundamental changes brought about by the combination of new technologies with new business models and processes. Ultimately this leads to businesses reshaping how they create value, generate revenue and relate to their customers.

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