Industry 4.0


Describes the era from the present into the near future, in which manufacturing has become turbocharged with robotics, embedded sensors, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other highly advanced automated systems. Industry 4.0 is also referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution or “4IR.”

What is Industry 4.0 and why is it important?

As the name suggests, proponents of Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, believe that this moment has the potential to be transformational across the globe and that we could see gains in productivity and advancement akin to the Industrial Revolution. 

Where does Industry 4.0 come from?

According to McKinsey, “Before 2014, the Google search term ‘Industry 4.0’ was practically nonexistent, but by 2019, 68 percent of respondents to a McKinsey global survey regarded Industry 4.0 as a top strategic priority.”

Earlier proponents include Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), who coined the phrase “Fourth Industrial Revolution” in an article published by Foreign Affairs magazine in 2015. Prior to that, the German government began investing in “Industry 4.0” as a high-tech strategy, debuting these plans at the Hanover Fair in 2011. 

What are some examples of Industry 4.0 technologies?

Industry 4.0 tech includes digital twin technology rendering virtual images of physical goods and installations for manufacturing. Warehouse-based automation technology might involve robotics designed to assist with heavy lifting or sensors tracking inventory. Any advanced automation involved in manufacturing or distribution processes can be considered Industry 4.0 tech.

What is an example of an Industry 4.0 company?

Any manufacturing company that leverages robotics and automation technology widely across the supply chain, factory, and warehouse operations might be considered an Industry 4.0 company. Examples range from major corporations like General Electric, Honeywell, Toshiba, or IBM, to smaller companies with an automation-centric approach to manufacturing.

Is Industry 4.0 the same as digital transformation?

You might think of Industry 4.0 as the manufacturing counterpart to digital transformation. With digital transformation, companies are streamlining and modernizing processes such as paperwork-based workflows. Industry 4.0 modernization involves robotics and sensors updating manual workflows in warehouses and other points in the supply chain. A digital transformation can enable a manufacturing workforce to leverage apps and connected systems from the shop floor across the entire enterprise.