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Introducing Industry 4.0

This step introduces the concept of Industry 4.0, what it means and how it can be defined.
© Luleå University of Technology

Industry 4.0 can be seen as a collective term for the digitalisation of industry, where the boundaries between the physical and the digital have been blurred. The concept of Industry 4.0 contains terms such as cyber-physical systems, smart factories, and Internet of Things (IoT).

The concept of Industry 4.0 originated in Germany, and was intended to provide many benefits:

  • Meet individual customer demands
  • Increased flexibility
  • Optimised decision-making
  • Increased resource efficiency and resource productivity
  • Creating value through new services
  • Improved conditions to meet demographic change
  • Balance between private life and working life
  • Improved competitiveness in production for high-wage countries

With Industry 4.0, customer-specific products can be profitably produced through the ability to incorporate customer-specific criteria into design, configuration, orders, planning and manufacturing. This flexibility is made possible with the introduction of digital system in production.

Some Definitions

Cyber-physical systems: The idea behind cyber-physical system is the integration of digital and physical systems. Through this integration, the production process can become more self-governing and adapt to individual customer requirements. It connects the entire production process. The production process can then be optimised as a whole, rather than optimising one part at a time.

The cyber-physical systems are equipped with smart algorithms that work on large quantities of data (Big Data). This data is primarily collected during production. It can include energy and material use, breakdowns, productivity and so on. But other data come from other places and can include the customers’ specific needs. The production system can be changed to adapt to what this data tells about how the production system works.

Another example of cyber-physical systems is the use of virtual reality. Click the link below to see how this can be applied in practice.

VR training for Scania

Internet of Things (IoT): Internet of Things, or IoT, is a collective term for the development of putting built-in sensors and processors in things such as machines, cars, household appliances etc. This makes it possible for these items to communicate with their surroundings to collect data, tailor their functions and create a smart and helpful environment for the customers.

Smart products/factories: Smart products, such as smartphones, watches and TV:s, is something that we often encounter in our everyday lives. These smart solutions are also, with Industry 4.0, showing up more regularly in industries. Smart products in industries are identifiable, can be located at all times and knows their own history, current state and their imagined flow. These smart products can be used to automatically predict which parameters are to be used to, among other things, manufacture a specific product. All in all, their ability to communicate with each other makes the production lines more efficient and self-governing.

One important area within this domain is smart automation composed by some of the thing mentioned above. This latest generation of industrial robots, so called Cobots, allows direct collaboration between humans and robots, which implies a new paradigm for robots in industry. One example of how Cobots can be applied can be seen in the video below. from Universal Robots / Rscued.

Universal Robots at Rscued

© Luleå University of Technology
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Exploring Sustainable Production Systems

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