People working on Industry 4.0

The fourth industrial revolution is here! Industry 4.0 reinvents the way manufacturing companies complete day-to-day tasks by digitizing production processes. The latest technological advancements can lower operating costs, lessen product waste, reduce production line downtime, improve quality protocols, and allow manufacturers to make better use of factory resources.

In this guide, you will learn about Industry 4.0 and how incorporating APIs into this concept can automate information flows between systems and devices.

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Industry 4.0, Explained

Industry 4.0—or the fourth industrial revolution—is a concept popularized by Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. While previous industrial revolutions pioneered mass production and brought digital capabilities and information technology to the world, this new revolution will use technologies from the digital, physical, and biological worlds.

Industry 4.0 builds on Industry 3.0 by combining new technologies such as:

  • Machine automation
  • Artificial intelligence/machine learning
  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
  • Internet of Systems
  • Smart factories
  • Smart machines
  • Data analytics
  • Cloud computing and cloud-based technologies

By combining these technologies, machines can share information to automate manufacturing processes, enhance manufacturing facilities, improve digital transformation, and revolutionize business models.

“When computers were introduced in Industry 3.0, it was disruptive thanks to the addition of an entirely new technology,” says Forbes magazine. “Now, and into the future, as Industry 4.0 unfolds, computers are connected and communicate with one another to ultimately make decisions without human involvement.”

As a developer or engineer, you must understand the meaning and benefits of Industry 4.0. Doing so will help you assist manufacturing companies in achieving their digital transformation objectives.

Benefits of Industry 4.0

Here are some of the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution:

Faster Manufacturing

Integrating systems and machines can result in more successful manufacturing workflows. Manufacturers can create products in quicker timeframes and meet service-level agreements with buyers. Data analytics can also help manufacturing companies identify pain points and bottlenecks in production lines and quickly rectify these issues.

Reduced Downtime

Downtime is an ongoing problem in manufacturing. Broken and malfunctioning machines can impact supply chains and jeopardize the reputation of manufacturing companies. Industry 4.0 solves this problem by enhancing machine monitoring and integrating systems with other technologies—a process called interconnection. That can improve the effectiveness of production lines and allow a manufacturer to create a “factory of the future” that utilizes intelligent workflows.

Less Product Waste

Product waste is another problem in manufacturing cycles. Integrating systems and machines can result in more intelligent manufacturing processes that reduce overproduction, product defects, inventory errors, and over-processing. As a result, Industry 4.0 can improve a manufacturing company’s sustainability credentials and reduce the costs associated with surplus products and materials.

Improved Quality Control

Intelligent and integrated machines can automate and improve quality control procedures for manufacturers. Industry 4.0 focuses on the end-to-end digitization of production processes and can improve how companies manufacture and distribute products. Artificial intelligence and machine learning create optimal operating conditions on the factory floor and detect systematic flaws that can hinder workflows and reduce product quality.

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance involves identifying anomalies in production processes that might harm a manufacturing company’s output. Industry 4.0 champions the use of data-driven methodologies to analyze factory equipment and worker performance to improve supply chain management and quality protocols.

Real-Time Decision Making

Data analytical methodologies like predictive analytics can help manufacturers make smarter and quicker decisions that benefit team members and end users. Collecting industrial data from disparate data sources and moving it to a centralized system provides companies with a single source of truth. With the latest real-time analytics, manufacturers can:

  • Track product quantities
  • Evaluate product quality
  • Improve production processes
  • Identify high-performing employees
  • Identify damaged/dangerous products/materials and remove them from supply chains
  • Manage labor resources
  • Evaluate business costs
  • Optimize unit and material costs
  • Improve logistics processes and ensure products get to end users on time
  • Improve inventory management

Improved Cybersecurity

Manufacturers must consider cybersecurity when integrating machines and systems for production. That’s because integration (and the adoption of new digital technologies) can make manufacturing companies vulnerable to data breaches and other cybersecurity attacks. Industry 4.0 focuses on securing technologies used for production processes, providing manufacturers with a safeguard. Developers and engineers will need to follow cybersecurity protocols when implementing technologies for the fourth industrial revolution to be successful. 

Save Costs

Industry 4.0 can save manufacturers money in the following ways:

  • Automating production processes can reduce labor costs
  • Integrating systems and machines can improve data integration, allowing manufacturers to identify cost-saving patterns and trends in data across their organizations
  • Improved quality control procedures can reduce product waste

Custom Manufacturing

Industry 4.0 allows manufacturers to customize production processes based on end-user needs. No longer will companies have to use a standardized approach to manufacturing. Technologies such as 3D printing allow manufacturers to create personalized products without slowing down workflows or the overall supply chain. This customized approach can attract more business clients and generate additional revenues for a factory. 

Why Should Manufacturers Follow Industry 4.0?

As demand for products and services increases, competition is fierce in the manufacturing sector. Businesses across niches require manufacturers that offer the highest-quality service for the most affordable price. Industry 4.0 can help those manufacturers remain competitive.

Recent research from McKinsey & Company illustrates the true value of investing in the fourth industrial revolution for manufacturers. Industry 4.0 can:

  • Reduce inventory-holding costs by 15-20%
  • Reduce machine downtime by 30-50%
  • Increase labor productivity by 15-30%
  • Increase throughput by 10-30%
  • Improve forecast accuracy by 85%
  • Improve cost-of-quality by 10-20%

McKinsey & Company says about Industry 4.0:

“The digitally enabled factory of today looks very different from the leading factory of ten years ago. Advances in data and analytics, AI, and ML—and the array of technology vendors in the market—mean manufacturers can choose from hundreds of potential solutions and tech applications to improve their ways of working.”

Impact of Industry 4.0 on API Management

IIoT—one of the fundamentals of Industry 4.0—helps manufacturers create a well-connected ecosystem for supply chain management. At the core of IIoT lies APIs, which allow enabled devices to send and receive real-time data that improves manufacturing workflows and digital technologies.

APIs in the REST standard can further enhance information flow between IIoT devices and allow engineers and developers like you to benefit from a lightweight and stateless API format when helping manufacturers achieve digital transformation objectives. REST APIs let factory systems and machines communicate with one another, helping manufacturers facilitate tasks and improve workflows. When used with other Industry 4.0 technologies like AI and machine automation, manufacturing companies can create factories of the future.

REST APIs also give manufacturing companies an extra layer of security when using APIs for information exchange. The best API platforms offer security benefits such as access tokens, user permissions, encryption, cryptography, and Oauth2. That provides developers and engineers with more visibility when strengthening API security.

While all API architecture executes integration, REST APIs allow developers and engineers to integrate applications in a secure and agile environment.

What DreamFactory Thinks About Industry 4.0

DreamFactory is an open-source software package that offers a complete and secure REST API for IoT (and IIOT) applications. As a leading provider of Instant SQL Server APIs, DreamFactory runs in public, private, or hybrid cloud environments and allows you to create instant APIS with no code whatsoever. That means you can help manufacturing companies improve API management in weeks instead of months. You can deploy DreamFactory with Docker or Kubernetes or from GitHub with automated ‘installers’.

DreamFactory recognizes the importance of Industry 4.0 and how it can revolutionize manufacturing workflows in ever-competitive sectors. As a result, its team will follow Industry 4.0 best practices when advising manufacturing companies around the world on API projects. DreamFactory will also consider the fourth industrial revolution when providing 24/7 engineering support, customized remote and on-site training, custom development, architectural consulting, customer support, and other services.

DreamFactory believes Industry 4.0 is just in its infancy. As the fourth industrial revolution evolves, more manufacturing companies will invest in this concept to improve production processes, reduce waste, lower operating costs, and enhance quality protocols. As a result, DreamFactory will continue to adapt its services to meet the needs and challenges of Industry 4.0.

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Final Word

Industry 4.0 is a concept that’s sweeping the manufacturing world. It allows manufacturers to realize digital transformation goals by combining new technologies such as machine automation, artificial intelligence, and IIOT—and by extension, APIs. Developers and engineers should recognize the importance and benefits of the fourth industrial revolution when working with manufacturing companies.

Now you can create live, secure, reusable, standardized, and fully documented REST APIs for Industry 4.0! DreamFactory is a free and open-source software package that requires no code, allowing you to automate and improve manufacturing processes in the age of the fourth industrial revolution. Start your free DreamFactory trial now.

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