Various German companies are considering the “Industry 4.0” concept, which featured highly at this month’s Hannover Fair.
Industry 4.0 was a theme of the industry fair, and was claimed as a German government initiative. It involves the de-centralising of control of tasks performed by networked instruments.
"We are entering a new epoch and thinking through what we have learned in the last 20 years as cell phone and smart phone users – namely, that we can communicate with each other while on the go,” said Jochen Köckler, the head of the expo.
“That thinking is making its way into factories now."
It will be the next industrial revolution, according to its enthusiasts, following Industrial Revolution 1.0 in 1780 (the first mechanical manufacturing facilities), 2.0 in 1900 (mass production, division of labour) and 3.0 in 1979 (networked, automated systems).
4.0 was based on “cyber-physical systems” said Siegfried Russwurm, the CEO of Seimens’ Industry Group, though Automation World states that the concept was one that National Instruments’ had put forward years earlier.
Festo, another German industrial giant presenting at Hannover, spoke of the concept.
In the era of Integrated Industry, individual workpieces will themselves determine what functions they need production installations to provide,” Festo’s Peter Post told Automation World.
“ An important milestone on the road towards Integrated Industry is the concept of integrated automation from Festo, based on the automation platform CPX.”
Automation World stated that the concept is being developed in the United States by the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition.