How Industry 4.0 will revolutionise engineering and manufacturing

A rise of new digital technology is transforming the way manufacturers work. Industry 4.0 is giving manufacturers the platform to gather and analyse data across machines, test out production and integrate systems. Enabling faster, more flexible, and more efficient processes to produce higher-quality goods and at lower costs.

This manufacturing revolution will increase productivity, support industrial growth, and change the profile of the workforce.

Where it all started

Since 1760, breakthroughs in manufacturing have transformed how the world works. Steam and water powered machines helped factory workers as they were able to use a more reliable source of power instead of wind, man and horsepower.

Later, electricity became the primary source of power which led to the creation of circuit chips which made machines fully automated. This helped drive costs down and paved the way for much more automated processes and advanced machine learning in today’s world.

The technologies driving Industry 4.0 

Autonomous bots

Autonomy is the ability to make your own decisions. This includes things like walking, opening doors and changing light bulbs. In bots, autonomy is no different.

Autonomous robots can make their own decisions and then act accordingly, just like humans. However, there is a limit to what the bots can do; these decision-based actions include: starting, stopping, and manoeuvring around obstacles that are in their way.

The robots have massively reduced the pressure on labour and increased productivity within packing, stocking and transporting goods. This means that  work which used to take days or weeks to complete, can now be an hour’s task.

Big data

Big data is playing a critical part in discovering new information to identify patterns that enable manufacturers to improve processes, increase supply chain efficiency and improve variables that affect production.

Big data has opened up a world of possibilities for businesses. It gives manufacturers access to supplier data so they can forecast delays or shortages. Big data allows manufacturers to track daily production and overheads.

One of the most significant advantages big data will give manufacturers is the ability to have actionable insights for manufacturers to improve quality levels and reduce quality-related costs. 


Simulation combines a set of digital tools and technologies to allow operators to mirror actions before implementing them into the physical world; driving down machine setup times and increasing quality.

Simulation is being used more extensively in mass operation environments and to help with production processes, new products and staff volumes.

The  Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is just taking all the things in the world and connecting them with the internet.

In manufacturing, IoT devices can track and trace inventory systems on a global scale. Manufacturers are implementing IoT devices in power plants, water management, and chemical manufacturing. Sensors can be embedded in pumps to regulate chemicals and control the flow and pressure of water.

IoT enables machinery to transmit information to one another which allows them to be managed remotely.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing plays a crucial part in the innovation of new technology. The Cloud has advanced beyond storage; it now provides the ability to forecast, and the capability to use AI and machine learning. Without the Cloud, none of the Industry 4.0 technology would be possible due to the size of the programs that they run off.

Pascal Giraud, Senior Director for the Cloud in EMEA at Oracle said: ‘by using the Cloud platform we can optimise business processes, enable more efficient supply chains and provide predictive maintenance.’

For engineers and manufacturers, the Cloud can also be a way to share large documents which leads to faster collaborations and decision making.

Additive Manufacturing

Also known as 3D printing, additive manufacturing has exploded across factories and advanced construction. It’s the process in which material is joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object.

CNN reported that the McLaren racing team used 3D printing for some of the Formula 1 race cars. McLaren discovered that they can print a rear wing in ten days instead of it taking five weeks with traditional manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing is being used in the healthcare sector. Stryker Corporation has invested in a research project in Australia which uses 3D printing to create on demand, custom surgical implants for bone cancer patients.

Augmented Reality  

For manufacturers and industrial workers, AR has become a much-needed lifeline to improve production lines. AR is the integration of digital information with the physical environment. Unlike VR, which creates a totally artificial environment, AR uses the existing environment and overlays computerized layers on top of it.

AR  technologies are improving training programs in factories and bridging the skills gap with more efficient training. In a recent article from Control Engineering, they published that new workers who are trained with AR are 30% to 40% more efficient as they can reduce their assembly time.

Some quality assurance departments are using AR to check the quality of products. Porsche began testing AR in factories in 2016. Their internal AR initiative uses highly intelligent lasers to scan finished parts and vehicles and compares them against specifications stored in the cloud.

Porsche's quality assurance managers use tablets to capture images of any questionable parts or apparent defects. The computers use digital, AR-generated overlays to verify the technician's work and help determine which parts pass inspection and which ones need more work.

Horizontal and vertical systems

In the past, horizontal and vertical systems were separate entities. A vertical system focussed on the whole process from the production of a product to the buyer. Whereas, horizontal systems looked at how to add value at each stage of the supply chain.

Now they have become more cohesive and integrated. The interconnected systems allow for more flexibility, quicker reaction and efficient working. 

Each Industry 4.0 technology is being used at every stage of the supply chain to add value. Simulation or AR help manufacturers by testing out the best way to produce a new product. Autonomous bots and 3D printing can assist with production, and big data is able to forecast for the future.  



 Back to Elevation News

View our latest vacancies

FLT With Counterbalance & Production

Find Out More...

Senior HR Generalist- Part Time

Find Out More...

Quality Manager

Find Out More...

Customer Experience Advisor

Find Out More...