What is Industry 4.0? Introduction to Industrial Internet of Things

What is Industry 4.0? Introduction to Industrial Internet of Things

The term Industry 4.0 is often used to refer the development process in manufacturing management and chain production. It is also called the fourth industrial revolution. Now the question is that how it will revolutionized the world and how it will effects on our lives?

This term was first publicly introduced in 2011 as “Industry 4.0”. It was introduced by a group of representatives from different fields e.g. business, politics, and academia as an initiative to increase competitiveness in the manufacturing industry. After that the German federal government adopted the idea in its high-tech strategy. Later, a Working Group was formed to advise on the implementation of Industry 4.0.


First industrial revolution came in Britain at the end of 18th century. This includes moving from manual production to the use of steam and water engines as a source of energy. It was a big achievement in industry at that time that helped revolutionize vehicles and agricultural industry, specifically. This was the time when the term “factory” became popular.

The second revolution came at the start of the 19th century.  It was the time of telegraphs and railways. People became familiar with telephone, television and other big industries. Major characteristic of this period was the introduction of mass production.

Perhaps the third revolution is much more familiar to us than the rest. Because most of the people who live today are familiar with the industries that depend on digital technologies in production. However, the third industrial revolution dates from 1960 to 1990. It is often referred to as the digital revolution and emerged from the change from analog and mechanical systems to digital systems.

Now, 20th century – the information age came with the magic of fourth industrial revolution. Key feature of the fourth industrial revolution is the automation of manufacturing processes. Industry 4.0 introduce flexible, controlled and customized mass production technologies.

So, what this actually means to us? Machines operate independently and cooperate artificially with humans to create a customer-oriented production field that constantly works to maintain itself. Thus, machine becomes an independent entity capable of collecting data, analyzing and advising them.

How Iot will drive the fourth industrial revolution?

Today’s technology has broken boundaries between virtual reality and the real world. The idea behind Industry 4.0 is to create a social network where machines can communicate with each other and people, that system is called industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is part of the big picture we already familiar with – Internet of Things (Iot) and the people in this system are called the Internet of People (IoP).

Independent communication and decision-making abilities allow simple industrial machines to work with manufacturers in order to create what we now call cyber-physical production system (CPPS). This system helps industries to integrate the real and virtual world. Thus, reducing the level of risk where human error can result in massive disasters. The level of accuracy that can be achieved through IIoT is one of the biggest advantages, making this discipline one of IoT’s most welcome gifts.

How does an IIoT system work?

Consider a smart factory with a fully connected and flexible system. This system uses a constant flow of data from connected operations, industrial devices and production systems to learn and adapt to changing demands. Extensive use of IoT devices and sensors connect machines with each other to allow data exchange thus allowing monitoring and control of processes of your plant, creating an industrial Internet of things (IIoT).

IIoT digitizes the production environment by integrating the manufacturing execution system and the enterprise resource planning system with integrated devices and process instruments for real-time communication. For example, smart tags can be incorporated to transform a tray of spare parts in a production facility into a separate tray that digitally records location and content and communicates when a refill is required.

Smart factory uses different sensors to automate the whole process. Autonomous vehicles, geographic sealing systems for material handling and transportation are the example. Industrial safety and security risk monitoring solutions, and quality remote control tools to manage air, water, and product quality depend on the sensors and communication technology. The network of connected components, sensors, and controllers provide large volumes of useful data in a variety of forms and formats.

Interoperability is also one of the main features of industry 4.0. It is the connection of cyber-physical, human and intelligent factories systems that communicate through IoT.

From 3D printing to independent vehicles, Industry 4.0 technologies are driving the manufacturing industry with new means of efficiency, precision, and reliability. The level of intelligence offered today is only the beginning of what is to come.

Advantages of Industry 4.0


An intelligent factory that contains hundreds or even thousands of intelligent devices and sensors capable of optimizing production, will eventually increase overall yield and performance of the industry as a whole.


Creating a flexible and customer-oriented market will help meet the needs of the population quickly and without problems. This will also destroy the gap between the manufacturer and the customer. Communication will take place between the two directly. Manufacturers do not need to communicate internally (in companies and factories) and externally (with customers).

Boosting research:

Internet of things already created a huge space for researchers in various fields of life including education, agriculture, City management, and Industrial processes automation. Data gathered as a result of IoT based smart devices can be researched using specialized software, tools, and techniques for continuous updating, thus allowing industry leaders to work on weak areas in terms of employees’ skill set and equipment performance.

Consequently, education and training will have a new form that will provide this industry with the necessary skilled labor.


Industry 4.0 promises much when it comes to income, investments and technological advances but employment remains one of the most mysterious aspects of the new industrial revolution. It is even more difficult to quantify or estimate potential employment rates. Here are some serious questions about employment.

  • What kind of new jobs will be introduced?
  • How does a Smart Factory employee need to be able to compete in a changing environment?
  • Will such changes lay off many workers?

These are the questions which require a lot of research and properly defined IoT standard and protocols before implementing IIoT on a large scale.

Final thoughts

Industry 4.0 transforms the way factories operate, creating an enabling environment for Just-In-Time (JIT) practices for production, order management, and shipping. In addition to interconnecting disparate subsystems of a factory, it also establishes digital links between the assembly line or the processing unit and the product design office, logistics services, supply chain, and stakeholders.

However, there are still many challenges that must be systematically addressed to ensure a smooth transition. Promoting research and experimentation in this area is essential.

Although speculation about privacy, security, and employment need further study, the overall picture is promising. This manufacturing approach is truly revolutionary.

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