Industry 4.0

The evolution of the 4.0 Industry

What is Industry 4.0: definition and historical outline

What is Industry 4.0: definition and historical outline

The industrial revolution in the digital era

"We are shifting from scale to the goal": the fourth industrial revolution is defined by this sentence and represents a radical change for companies. The attention is no longer directed towards the mass of consumers, but rather to the individual buyer, who determines the dynamics of production with his choices.

Industry 4.0 is based on the technologies behind digital manufacturing, which must be adopted by companies in order to obtain all the advantages of this phenomenon. Let's remember, for example, digital technologies, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Cloud Computing and Robotics.

The paradigm shift: new resources and opportunities

Industry 4.0 and, in particular, the Internet of Things entail important consequences and new needs in terms of resources, skills and work. On the one hand, companies increase productivity, use resources more efficiently, reduce environmental impact and lay the foundations for a better quality of life.

On the other hand, the labor market and the skills require a considerable change: the higher level of complexity leads to the loss of work for the less qualified. In addition, the demand for broadband storage space and data security tools is increasing.

Industry 4.0 and the new smart world

Industry 4.0 and the new smart world

Smart factories, smart cities, smart agriculture

Industry 4.0 means change for all companies and the adoption of automated and intelligent robotic machines, able to make independent decisions interacting with the environment. The smart factory is just that: make the company intelligent with the entry of the Cyber-Phycal System in which human force is still necessary, but no longer fundamental. The result is a more efficient production process.

Nowadays, Industry 4.0 is also used in Smart Cities, which are based on sustainable development in order to ensure a high quality of life for their inhabitants. In this case the Internet of Things (IoT) is applied to logistics and smart mobility services (IoS), and to the use of natural resources (IoE). It is clear that Industry 4.0 is now an integral part of the phenomenon, in order to create even more effective production systems.
Industry 4.0 also applies to precision agriculture: the automation of unrelated production activities and their integration with other internal farm processes. Precision farming and the Internet of Farming are strictly related to the Agriculture 4.0, that is, the interconnected use of multiple technologies for sustainable crops, higher production and processing quality and better working conditions.

The advantages of Industry 4.0: control, decisions, costs

In the smart factories as well as in the case of smart cities and smart farms it is fundamental to analyze and have an overview of the situation and only the cloud and the IoT technologies, which constantly communicate machinery and management software, can meet this need . Data management is made possible by an accurate Big Data Management activity.

The role and value of Big Data and other technologies is mainly given by the possibility of making better decisions and improving the strategic management process of economic decisions that characterize the daily activity of every company, from the SME to the multinational. Precisely the data represent today the most important entrepreneurial information assets and allow to increase effectiveness and efficiency.

Industry 4.0 technologies allow companies to reduce costs. With cloud computing, IT infrastructures can be accessed remotely by eliminating staff costs, as well as purchasing and maintaining hardware. IoT sensors, on the other hand, allow constructing predictive models and signaling machines anomalies and failures based on real-time estimates or historical information, avoiding machine downtime.

Enabling technologies of Industry 4.0

Enabling technologies of Industry 4.0

IoT, Cloud & Big Data

Industry 4.0 is based on some advanced technologies, among which the most used today are:

  • IoT and IIoT: components, devices (sensors, microprocessors), software platforms, which allow objects and machinery to communicate via the Internet;
  • Cloud: technologies for the storage, processing and transmission of data but also applications and pervasive software for the control of production processes;
  • Big Data: the amount of data generated by each object and machinery that uses IoT systems and that must be organized and analyzed giving rise to Big Data Analytics.

The virtual twin

All the afore-mentioned technologies (IoT, Cloud, Big Data Analytics) collaborate in the creation of the so-called digital or virtual twin of the physical process that plays a key role in the Industry 4.0.

An advanced mathematical model allows to describe the product, the service or the process to carry out analyzes and apply strategies.

Today, the simulation with virtual twins has a key role in Industry 4.0 and allows to optimize production obtaining useful information to ensure greater efficiency (up to 20% more production) and reduce the time-to-market (up to 50%) .

Storage and data management

Storage and data management

Cloud Computing

The real protagonist of Industry 4.0 is cloud computing, which allows companies to abandon manual processes of virtual machine provisioning, saving time and money. Among the advantages that a cloud system can bring to the company we point out the flexibility, the absence of costs for hardware, collaboration, security and data protection and sustainability.

Among the systems available today to all Italian SMEs, we mention Red Cloud, created to guide the digital transformation of your company by offering advanced system skills, a modern data center and open-source software.

Big Data Management

We have seen how the technologies on which the new Industry 4.0 is based generate a huge amount of data, the so-called Big Data, which must be stored and managed appropriately to ensure the success of the company.

Today, we prefer to use the time series DB, i.e. special databases optimized for time series: these are measurements and events tracked, sub-sampled and aggregated over time and include sensor data, performance monitoring, server metrics and more.

An important evolution that must involve the infrastructure of each company.

Monitor, track and analyze: data management

Each successful IoT project is based on a perfect monitoring and tracking of machine data, but also on the logistics operations of the company, thanks to the use of special sensors for visual monitoring. It is a solution offered by InfluxDB, which offers companies and their customers incredible features for optimal data management.

Thanks to IoT sensors it is possible to have access to historical data to obtain insights and information to be applied to the current situation, with an important competitive advantage for companies. Doing IoT analysis means, in Industry 4.0, you have access to predictive maintenance, traffic routing, churn management reduction, better water conservation and so on.
The sensors allow to generate data that the most advanced companies want to manage in real time and without any human interaction. For example, if the loss of a pump is signaled, it is possible to turn off the machine automatically or change a wind turbine if the wind changes. This is a data management that brings immediate commercial benefits.

IoT gateways and IIoT sensors

IoT gateways and IIoT sensors

The importance of IoT gateways and their use

IoT Gateways are one of the critical components of the Internet of Things and are hardware devices or virtual software codes that connect an IoT Sensor Network and a Cloud server. Their importance is given by the fact that they facilitate compatibility with the IoT network, supporting various protocols such as Bluetooth, Wifi, Zwave and Zigbee. IoT sensors are IP-based and the IoT Gateway ensures connectivity with cloud servers, making the various devices available online.

IIoT: the role of the Internet of Things in Industry 4.0

Manufacturing companies and manufacturers use the IIoT, or the Industrial Internet of Things, to improve factory efficiency, prevent machinery breakdowns and downtime. In fact, these sensors allow to make a predictive analysis of the machines and allow to reduce costs, improve uptime, speed up operations and create products of superior quality.

The result for companies is a greater speed of production lines, thanks to the IoT and IIoT technologies.

IoT tools: sensors, chatbots, augmented reality

IoT sensors are truly intelligent and can communicate with both other sensors and remote computers, allowing companies to manage the huge amount of data generated or Big Data. Their application is really wide ranging from automotive systems to industrial control, from health assistance to oil exploration and more to detect and transmit data at low cost.
The use of chatbots and intelligent assistants in the manufacturing and manufacturing context is an important innovation, since through these software it is possible to simulate human behavior. In the field of Industry 4.0, chatbots are virtual assistants of production operators and use the data obtained from IoT sensors to guide the operators' choices in assistance and maintenance.

The AR allows to improve the maintenance of industrial machinery and receive remote assistance on the basis of analytical and predictive data generated by the same machinery with the advantage of reducing the costs of assistance and error rates, but above all with the improvement of the quality of the interventions . Thanks to virtual reality (VR) the operator can view the planning data from the user's point of view, reducing errors to a minimum. Choosing to implement augmented reality solutions in the company means being able to immediately gain important advantages in terms of efficiency, business productivity, cost reduction and the possibility of error, analysis of Big Data, thanks to integration with existing cloud structures. In addition, the instructions in AR support the operator in extraordinary or routine activities.

System Integration

System Integration

Integrate new data with existing systems

Today, IoT sensors available on the market allow complete integration with data and processes already existing in the company such as ERP systems, which contain information on inventory and customer demand, MES systems or production execution, but also PLM for the creation of smart labels and with product quality systems.

The integration of these worlds allows companies to increase operational efficiency by becoming more flexible and responsive and offering customized solutions to customers.

Machine-machine dialogue but also machine-man

The previous tools work only thanks to ERP, MES, PLM and the other tools work only thanks to the application integration with an Enterprise Bus Service (ESB), ie a software infrastructure able to transfer data between the various company systems and manage them. . The result is a better and complete automation of business processes to obtain real-time information on processes, as well as coordination, messaging and other services. The ESB can be imagined as a backbone on which application components and corporate software services travel.

What are the main tools in Industry 4.0?

The main Industry 4.0 tools are: Middleware, Open Technologies and Automation.
Middleware refers to a connection software that connects services and environments for the development of distributed applications. In this way, different entities (processes, objects, etc.) residing on different computers can interact with each other, even in the case of different communication protocols, operating systems and local system architectures. Today, Middleware is the technological basis of all the integration of business applications, allows better storage, management and recovery of data.
Open Technologies, including 3D scanners, allow us to reconstruct the digital model in three dimensions of each real object and are today at the base of Industry 4.0, revolutionizing the production of many companies. In particular, they can improve the efficiency of production processes and, when combined with quality control software, can improve product monitoring during and at the end of the production cycle. Finally, 3D scanners can be robotised and inserted into production lines for automated control.
The concept of industrial automation and Industry 4.0 go hand in hand as the goal of companies is to gain full control of an industrial machine thanks to robotics. The perfect man-machine integration leads to better management of energy, IT and material flows. The technologies available today make it possible to use data in the best way, centralizing them and enhancing them to 100% to obtain important advantages in terms of quality, time saving and production efficiency.

All this means lower costs and increased turnover for the company that uses the Industry 4.0 model. Who fears that the fourth industrial revolution will lead to job losses is good to remember that intelligent machines will work on communication with man and the worker of the future will only have to retrain.
At present 80% of robots are used in the automotive, electronics, metal and chemical sectors, but are already studying machine-machine and human-machine dialogue projects in health, transport and even in the art world. The future trend is the CoBots, collaborative robots that work with men to advance Industry 4.0 thanks to advanced technology.

Data analysis in Industry 4.0

Data analysis in Industry 4.0

Data Analytics

Big Data and Data Analytics represent the main resource for all the companies that have decided to invest in Industry 4.0. Knowing how to analyze and manage the data generated by IoT platforms will mean for every company that operates in the manufacturing sector millions of euros in savings, and above all, improved efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and quality of the products offered. Making use of Data Analytics means knowing how to use innovative tools such as ML or IA to analyze the data and the figure of the Data Scientist will be increasingly important.

Data Visualization

Data Visualization helps to see information as a whole, but above all make it clear and usable by everyone in the company in a visual form, that can be a chart, a list, a map or an infographic.

Making data visualization means knowing how to analyze data and allows you to experiment with different industrial scenarios: this is why there is a growing diffusion of data visualization tools, available in various forms on the basis of company needs to be satisfied.

Data Analysis tools

Innovations in machine learning and the development of new analytical tools have found wide application in Industry 4.0, to effectively manage Big Data generated by IoT sensors and, more generally, by the Internet of Things. The most interesting application in the industrial field is undoubtedly the maintenance and predictive analysis, for the detection of anomalies in real time.
Artificial intelligence is a further element at the base of the Industry 4.0 model and the internal change of companies. It is a technology that allows machines and robots to connect and communicate with each other, learning from the situations that are created in the production processes of companies. This change leads to lower costs and greater efficiency for the entire manufacturing sector, but not only.
Dashboards allow companies working with Industry 4.0 technologies to use advanced ways to make complex decisions based on Big Data generated by IoT sensors. All metrics (descriptive, diagnostic and predictive) can thus be managed strategically by the company, allowing to optimize resources, costs and productivity. Using dashboards and dashboards can improve information availability and decision-making quality.

Hyper and super-amortization: Italian tax incentives

Hyper and super-amortization: Italian tax incentives

Tax incentives for the Italian Industry 4.0

The Industry 4.0 project was enriched by the Manovra 2019, with incentives for cloud computing and the confirmation of hyper-depreciation. In short, the 140% increase in the deductibility of fees for services and software used in the cloud is established, while hyper-depreciation introduces different rates based on the investment ceiling. The 140% incentive for intangible assets is also confirmed. Finally, the voucher for the Innovation Manager was introduced to support the digital transformation processes according to the provisions of the Piano Nazionale Impresa 4.0.

Super and hyper-amortization in 2019

The Italian Balance Sheet Regulation (DDL) 2019 introduced the extension for investments in new capital and intangible assets, capable of supporting the technological innovation of Italian companies on the basis of the Industry 4.0 model. In detail, hyper-depreciation extends to 31 December 2020, while the 130% super amortization will end on 30 June 2019.

The objective is to boost the innovation of Italian companies and investments in plant and machinery, to get the new model off the ground of Industry 4.0. How do all this incentives work? Super-amortization can be explained like this: the companies that buy a new instrumental good from the Manovra 2019, and pay it 100 can deduct 130. The subsidy is provided for capital goods, for long-term use and for the production process of the subject concerned and must be new. For those who purchased such assets by December 31, 2018, the super amortization lasts until June 30, 2019. On the other hand, hyper-amortization was reconfirmed with the aim of facilitating the recovery of the industrial sector. The rates provided for are three and the value of over-amortization reaches 270% for investments of up to 2.5 million euro, while it is reduced by the lower amounts. The aim is also to allow SMEs to enter the technological modernization perspective envisaged by the Industry 4.0 model.

The measures of hyper-amortization and super-amortization fall within the Piano Nazionale Industria 4.0, which aims to offer all companies the opportunity to enter the fourth industrial revolution and seize the many opportunities it offers. Industry 4.0 guidelines are technological neutrality, horizontal and non-sectoral action and intervention on enabling factors.