Technology is ever-changing, and those emerging novelties have a direct effect on modern businesses.

In recent years, this shift towards automation and artificial intelligence has been called Industry 4.0 – of the fourth Industrial Revolution.

And although Industry 4.0 sounds complicated and a little daunting, enterprises can actually capitalize on modernization to increase revenue effectively.

What Is Industry 4.0?

Ultimately, Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth industrial revolution – which – which we are reported to be in the throes of now.

But instead of focusing on textile manufacturing, iron and steel, or traditional digital technology, Industry 4.0 focuses on:

  • Cloud-based platforms.
  • Internet of Things.
  • Machine learning and autonomous robotics.
  • Additive manufacturing, such as 3D printing.
  • Connected supply chains.
  • Autonomous equipment and vehicles.

Industry 4.0 builds upon the shift towards digital that we saw during the third industrial revolution, making those tactics even more innovative and effective.

This pushes us further towards technology with strong automation, data exchange, cyber-systems, cloud computing and cognitive computing.

In fact, 20% of G2000 manufacturers will use intelligent manufacturing by 2021. This adaptation can improve productivity by up to 25%.

What Industries Will Benefit From Industry 4.0? 

Between 2018 and 2022, Industry 4.0 could generate $500 billion to $1.5 trillion for the overall global economy.

Industry 4.0 focuses on a lot of machine learning and autonomous robotics. Therefore, industries such as automotive, logistics and supply chains benefit from the technological advances most prominently.

However, nearly any industry can benefit from the fourth industrial revolution.

In addition to the list above, other Industry 4.0 applications include:

  • Augmented reality.
  • Simulation and Digital Twin.
  • Big data and analytics.

And those can all be integrated into common digital platforms such as mobile apps, and – perhaps most notably – the Internet of Things, or the integration of the Internet with regular everyday objects such as watches, speakers, thermostats and more. In fact, the Internet of Things industry is expected to grow to approximately $520 billion by 2021, which will more than double its worth from 2017. 

So, don’t be turned off when you hear “the fourth industrial revolution” – many modern manufacturing brands can capitalize on the power of emerging technology!

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How To Integrate The Fourth Industrial Revolution In Your Business Plan

The beauty of Industry 4.0 is that there are so many changes and technological advances, and that wide range makes it easy for businesses to customize the techniques they utilize to their needs.

Luckily, there are a few simple tips that will help you identify the advances that will help your brand and integrate them seamlessly into your business plan.

1. Understand The Objectives & Impact

According to ELEKS, the latest technology trends are frequently the kick-off point for digital transformation and it is easy to fall into the trap of starting the transformation in response to a trend, without knowing what the end goal is.

Doing so can lead to sporadic changes that become chaotic. In turn, these changes do not integrate well because there is no strategic outlook. Take the time to create goals and the ramifications of investing in Industry 4.0.

2. Determine Your Manpower

Integrating emerging technology into the manufacturing process, or other areas of your business is no easy feat. It takes a lot of bandwidth and a team of experts to pull it off successfully.

Have an honest conversation about how much time, money and energy your new innovations will take. Then, find a professional partner, like ELEKS, a custom software development company, that can help turn your creative idea into a reality in a reasonable timeframe.

3. Ensure Your Analytics Are Accurate

Implementing new and exciting techniques means nothing if you can’t track the benefits it brings (or doesn’t bring) to your brand.

Make sure that you determine key performance indicators and have the tools in place to track those metrics regularly and accurately. For example, do you need to engage consumers better? Are you hoping to improve employee workflow and efficiency?

Then, be prepared to alter and improve your initiatives as needed to ensure success.

So, Do Cybersecurity Threats Rise In Relation With Industry 4.0?

In short, yes.

Although incredible technological advances, like artificial intelligence, make programs and businesses, well, more intelligent, they also open brands up to more security breaches.

“The more digitalized and automated the enterprise becomes, the more security threats arise: IoT, cloud, and everything that is connected can be hacked. A proper IoT governance is absolutely essential,” says Iurii Garasym, the Director of Corporate Security at ELEKS.

What’s more, 40% of industrial websites have at least one direct public Internet connection and at least one device that is accessible remotely. This means that nearly every tech-driven brand is susceptible to data breaches.

Luckily, there are precautions that brands can take to protect their brands and sensitive information when forging ahead with Industry 4.0 advances.

5 Tips To Protect Your Brand Online During Industry 4.0

Although Industry 4.0 opens brands up to a host of innovative possibilities that can grow business, a stronger reliance on digital technology also increases the change of cybersecurity threats and data breaches.

However, there are a few best practices that will protect brands while allowing them to capitalize on the fourth industrial revolution.

1. Identity Any Possible Weak Points

“While replacing the legacy infrastructure is often not the most practical approach, one of the options is to isolate insecure devices and create an additional layer of security between them,” says Garasym.

“You need to obtain complete environment visibility, establish strict access control with privileged access management, and implement security monitoring to detect suspicious events, abnormal authentication events and unexpected configuration changes. Enterprise connected devices shouldn’t be exposed to the Internet or enabled on networks with end-user stations.”

2. Create A Dedicated Team For Robotic Process Automation Development

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a new tech trend that performs routine operations similarly to how a human worker would.

RPA is similar to the idea of artificial intelligence, and tasks that can be automated include data entry, gathering and extracting data, booking, and more. RPAs can run unassisted – or completely autonomously – or with some assistance from humans.

RPAs are also becoming more prevalent in modern businesses – in fact, according to ELEKS, by 2021, it will be a $1.2 trillion industry. However, RPAs also leave businesses more vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Therefore, if you’re planning on using RPAs (or scaling what you already have) you should build a team that can determine the scope of your project, prioritization of RPA implementation, understand regulation limitations and define business risk assessment framework. Plus, those team members should not to have a conflict of interest and be dedicated to the project. 

3. Protect SCADA & Other Robust Systems According To Regulations

The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system is comprised of both software and hardware functions.

This dual balance allows industrial and technology businesses to gather real-time data, record events, log information, manage files, and more. Plus, users can network with robotic and automotive elements like motives and sensors, either on-location or remotely.

SCADA and similar systems help enterprises improve productivity, aggregate more accurate data, communicate system changes and problems, and ultimately make smarter business decisions. And SCADA usage grows about 6.6% each year. 

Although systems like SCADA open a small space for security breaches to worm their way in, they also provide a fast and seamless notification system that can help rectify those breaches at lightning speed. Thus, the pros typically outweigh the cons drastically.

To ensure proper security with SCADA, ensure you:

  • Map your current SCADA systems, so you know where you are most vulnerable, where remote access to the network is possible, and can protect those areas from data breaches.
  • Implement rigorous monitoring and detection systems in place to protect the system and identify cyber-attacks immediately.
  • Keep stringent network security protocols in place so your security is up to date and your employees know what to do in case of a cybersecurity breach.
  • Perform regular gap assessments that comply with industry regulations, including NERC CIP, NIST 800-82 and ISA/IEC 62443. ELEKS recommends doing this with the help of a dedicated SCADA team of experts, which many top development agencies can provide.

4. Manage User Behavior & Access Credentials

To minimize cybersecurity risk in Industry 4.0 systems – particularly in cloud-based systems – you should tightly manage those who have access in the first place.

Choose a system that gives you more control (such as Software-as-a-Service instead of Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and ensure you are well-versed in how your vendor of choice will mitigate cybersecurity risks.

Then, determine exactly who will have access to the system, where they will be allowed to access it from, how they will log in, and teach every user effective cybersecurity best practices. Ensure you include tight login procedures, too, such as two-factor authentication for login.

Plus, don’t forget to understand data compliance regulations. Different countries and industries have different regulatory standards that must be adhered to – such as the GDPR in Europe – and following those typically tightens security as well.

5. Find A Technology Partner With Real Experience

Innovative emerging tech such as AR/VR and the Internet of Things may be new – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t experts.

In fact, quite the contrary. There are certain professional, certified technology experts – like ELEKS – that are well-versed in Industry 4.0 advances, integrating them into brand strategies, and securing effective cybersecurity.

Take the time to find the best technology partner that will understand your business, implement digitization strategies, can identify areas that make your business vulnerable, and will ensure proper cybersecurity through it all.

Are you interested in incorporated Industry 4.0 tactics into your business? Learn how ELEKS can help you HERE.

An Industry 4.0 Real-World Example: How Ford Motor Company Invested In The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Ford Motor Company is one of the largest manufacturing companies in the world, producing over 6.6 million vehicles in 2017 alone. In December 2018, Ford unveiled a $45 million manufacturing center in Redford, Michigan. 

This manufacturing center of about 100 engineering experts – dubbed the Advanced Manufacturing Center – incorporates new and innovative technologies, such as:

3D Printing

The Advanced Manufacturing Center has 23 3D printers that work with different materials, including sand, carbon, and nylon powder. The company hopes that increased usage of 3D printing during the manufacturing process – even for various automotive parts – will save Ford up to $2 million.

AR/VR

The Advanced Manufacturing Center is incorporating augmented reality and virtual reality to simulate the assembly lines that build vehicles. By incorporating AR and VR into the manufacturing process, Ford hopes to identify problems and hazards sooner, which will protect employees and improve productivity worldwide.

Robotics

Ford Motor Company already uses some robotics in their manufacturing process – there are already over 100 collaborative robots in 24 plants worldwide. However, the Advanced Manufacturing Center increases the number of collaborative robots (or cobots, as they are often referred to as).

Cobots are able to safely work in production lines without protective gear or safety cages that people need to complete tasks. This allows them to aid in productivity and employee safety.

The Impact Of Industry 4.0

All in all, Industry 4.0 is set to alter that way businesses capture consumers, improve workflow and increase revenue forever.

Through small and large changes alike, businesses will be able to better target demographics, predict user behavior, and more to achieve their specific business goals. And what more could a burgeoning brand want?

Are you looking for a technology partner that can help you integrate Industry 4.0 elements? Contact ELEKS here for a customized quote!