If you attended this years’ Hannover Messe, the leading international trade fair for industrial technology, you will have seen fully developed “Industry 4.0” techniques on demonstration. Coined at the Hannover Messe five years ago, Industry 4.0 represents the fourth industrial revelation, driven by data and automation.
This futuristic idea has now become a reality and these new techniques are leading the way to a fully digitised, intelligent manufacturing plant. Mobile ultrasound measuring devices for foresighted machine maintenance, smart liquid analysis, driverless forklifts and even collaborating robots – these were just a few of the new systems and equipment on show.
Changes taking place in consumer behavior have drawn a new map, a new type of building and a new kind of automation for the retail sector.
Growth has taken place in both the number and size of the facilities that turn e-commerce orders into product deliveries. The distribution center, or operation fulfillment center, is increasingly emerging in locations that experience low real estate costs, offer tax incentives to locate there, have an available workforce for seasonal surges and offer multiple ways of transporting goods from their locations.
The internet of things is enabling industry to connect individual robotic and automated work cells with other similar cells to create multicellular organisms within what could now be referred to as “smart factories”, particularly as the factory building itself can be connected to those multicellular organisms operating within its walls.
Not only that, those smart factories can themselves be connected to other smart factories within the body of the industrial company’s entire estate, which itself is all wired up to what could be called a central nervous system.