The traditional industry has been limited so far because the machines of the factories were as efficient as the human workers who operated them, however not any more than them. In recent years, industrial processes have undergone a great transformation with the introduction of digital elements and automated control systems, which permits that the production lines are able to operate in an uninterrupted manner and with almost no human supervision. This is the fourth industrial revolution or “Industrie 4.0″, as coined in Germany in 2011, and is based on cyber-physical systems. In the manufacturing environment, these cyber-physical systems include intelligent machines, storage systems and production facilities capable of exchanging information autonomously, triggering actions and controlling each other independently.
These following were the previous revolutions experienced in factories:
1784 → First mechanical loom: The first industrial revolution was marked by the introduction of the steam engine.
1870 → First conveyor belt: Electricity was the central force in the second revolution, making mass production possible and introducing the division of tasks.
1969 → First Programmable Logic Controller (PLC): The third revolution was determined by the use of electronics and information technologies (IT) to achieve automated production.
Information technology is for this revolution what the new sources of energy were for the previous ones, from the steam engine to electricity, fossil fuels, and even nuclear energy.
The fourth industrial revolution arises from the digitalization and extreme interconnection of productive activity. The advantages that it brings are:
- The radical reduction of time and cost of development and / or manufacturing of new products.
- Increase and precision in the ability to make productive and business decisions, with the ability to fully know the complete value chains in real time.
- Reduction of transits between the different stages of the value chain. Integration and shortening of the value chain.
- Development of added value services apart from the main functions.