How do you feel about this article? Help us to provide better content for you.
Thank you! Your feedback has been received.
There was a problem submitting your feedback, please try again later.
What do you think of this article?
Industry 4.0 is gaining momentum. However, it takes time and effort for people to get the most significant gains from the associated technologies. Which sectors have seen the biggest impact from Industry 4.0? Here are six examples.
People who work in the agriculture sector know that many factors must go right for harvests to be successful. Things like bad weather and pests can make yields lower than expected for a given season. However, Industry 4.0 can remove some of the uncertain variables.
One project that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite imagery in India can predict the crop yield by district, region or farm, even before harvesting occurs. Another option is to use drones for better pest management. The associated aerial images can allow farmers to only apply pesticides to the affected areas, getting results that are effective and better for the planet than their old methods.
A company called Root AI also lets farmers use a picking robot to harvest delicate produce, like tomatoes. The machine uses cameras to scan vineyards and detect ripeness before picking. The robot’s proportions also mimic a 6-foot-tall person’s arms. It also features a storage compartment that the picked fruits go into during operation.
The logistics sector has also experienced an impressive impact from Industry 4.0. Figuring out the best ways to make operations more efficient helps everyone who receives the respective items or parcels.
In one example, DHL invested in a package-handling robot. Leaders hoped that the purchase would make the company’s operations more scalable. Estimates indicate that the machine could tackle up to 800 boxes per hour.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has also caused massive improvements in logistics. Smart sensors can track a package through its supply chain journey and alert representatives to any possible issues. Imagine if a temperature-sensitive parcel was left in a warm environment. Workers who are warned about that mistake could contact the right people to correct the problem before the product spoils.
3. Life Sciences
The life sciences sector was not an early adopter of Industry 4.0. However, more investments are happening now, and the results are encouraging. One of the biggest benefits of using more smart technologies in a lab is that it leads to worthwhile workload shifts, giving people more time to focus on high-value duties.
Pre-analytical processes, like slide staining, are typically the easiest to automate due to their simple mechanics. However, machine learning and smart image analysis make it easier to mechanize lab tests. Humans can verify whatever results the automated systems provide.
The rise of labs filled with Industry 4.0 technology has also led to facilities that people can operate from anywhere. The Lilly Biotechnology Center in California is an excellent example. It has space to keep 100 instruments and 5 million compounds. Cloud computing technology allows people to monitor and perform experiments from anywhere with an internet connection.
The e-commerce market represents a steadily growing consumer segment. In 2014, the worldwide share of online sales in the retail market was only 7.4%. However, analysts believe it will reach nearly 25% by 2025. People who buy things over the internet typically expect increasingly fast shipping speeds. Some even want their items to arrive the same day they order them. Industry 4.0 technology can help with that expectation and other demands.
Global Fashion Group's Dafiti Group examined how automation could bring a smoother e-commerce experience to people in the Latin American market. The facilities’ technologies allow processing up to 4,800 products per hour. The warehouse has 300 robots and 450,000 bins and uses a system that cuts order cycle time from 24 hours to two.
A startup called Urbx wants to do something similar with grocery automation, except decision-makers, there will focus on making the most of space in vertical structures. The Urbx automated system can operate in only 1,800 square feet of space and reach up to 150 feet high. Orders are ready an hour after they are placed. E-bikes are among the distribution methods used.
The construction sector is also in a great position to see a major impact from Industry 4.0. Many firms encounter challenges due to retiring workforces and the time required to train new people for the unfilled positions. Automation could reduce those issues. Digital twins are also valuable for helping project team members visualize buildings at various stages of construction. People can often see that data from anywhere, as long as they have active internet connections.
Leko Labs is a startup that aims to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings by replacing up to 75% of the concrete and steel currently used with a wood composite material. The company also uses robotics in its fabrication process, and pieces are fabricated off-site before getting transported to the construction area. Moreover, Leko Labs developed algorithms that can reportedly optimize and automate the construction process. It uses 50% fewer materials while improving a building’s thermal and acoustic properties.
3D printing has helped the construction sector make substantial progress, too. A Dutch couple recently moved into the first 3D-printed home approved in Europe. One of the main advantages was that the structure only took 120 hours to build. Some companies have also made eco-friendly materials for these printers to use.
No discussion of the impact from Industry 4.0 is complete without mentioning the manufacturing sector. Many of the world’s leading factories combine numerous technologies to get the best results. Although doing that requires making substantial investments, it often pays off.
Experts say cost reductions for components such as cameras and sensors have made robots more affordable and practical for manufacturing environments. Those parts mean the machines can better understand their surroundings, work safely with humans, detect products on assembly lines and more.
Ericsson has created a 5G test factory to demonstrate what the future could look like if manufacturers embrace the new network. The often-discussed low-latency feature of 5G could make it easier for facility leaders to connect multiple machines and have them work simultaneously to get tasks done faster. Similarly, 5G could help ensure people get accurate information about machine conditions and assembly line productivity.
Dedication Supports the Impact From Industry 4.0
These six sectors show what’s possible when decision-makers focus on Industry 4.0 improvements. However, the people who take that route should realize they’re most likely to get the desired outcomes if they stay committed to the goal for the long term. Industry 4.0 is not something individuals can give resources to for only a few months and expect continual gains.