The Fourth Industrial Revolution Has Already Begun


Peter Bílik, EMANS Solution Designer, ANASOFT

What are the first steps that manufacturers can take today in order to set off on this path?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution Has Already Begun

Strategic line 4.0 INDUSTRY determine the future of the industry. It may be very futuristic. But there are companies which operate on the Industry 4.0 yet today. Smaller and medium-sized manufacturing companies it may still be considered a distant fiction, the consequences of the third industrial revolution over 100 years ago, still last.

Three Steps to Begin with:


What can a manufacturer do today in order to set off on the path to Industry 4.0? Starting to collect data is the first basic step. This does not require the installation of complicated sensors or cameras; even a simple description of the manufacturing process, i.e., an electronic recording of operations carried out by workers is enough.  Naturally, other channels can be added through which data from all machines, devices, products, warehouses and other sections of plant will flow. Similar to car navigation systems, the introduction of GPS technology which provided information about the current position of the car was the first step.

2. Mom system

Deploying software for MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management), which is one of the fundamental building blocks for a smart digital company, is step two. Software connected to manufacturing provides an elegant way to describe the manufacturing process (i.e., it can be used with step one), while also allowing for the coordination of individual operations in terms of production itself, or logistics, maintenance or continuous quality control.  All of these operations share the same manufacturing resources – workers, finished products, machines and equipment. Therefore, the definite identification of manufacturing resources is the basic precondition for successful MOM, which creates the basic skeleton of the company’s “social network” where each stage of the manufacturing process has its own profile with a timeline in which we record their history. Similar to your Facebook profile.  

MOM also enables the electronic recording the movement of goods and completed operations. Subsequently, all of this information is collected and made accessible in real time, so that even the production manager knows exactly about the state of manufacturing and what is going on at each assembly line.

3. services

Building services, which give sense and value to the data collected in the information system, is the third step on the path towards Industry 4.0.  It is a version of the services which remind us on Facebook about the birthdays of friends, or navigation services which, based on all available entry data, will calculate the amount of time it will take to reach the destination. In manufacturing, the management can adopt strategic decisions based on information acquired in this way. For example, a portfolio can be adjusted if the data show that actual costs for certain products are higher or lower than anticipated. 

The good news for manufacturers is that the path to Industry 4.0 does not have to involve an immediate and mega investment in the replacement or modernization of the entire plant. It’s possible to gradually move towards a smart company, and without massive investments.  It’s important to begin with digitizing and to set basic principles, even to a small extent and then to broaden functionality and add other entities and services to the factory’s “social network.” The implementation of an company’s vision in which machines and system are to a great extent autonomously diagnosed, configured and optimized with the aim of achieving higher productivity, is real for everybody who is willing to set off on this path.