What is Industry 4.0?
The concept of Industry 4.0 extends digital connectivity into the physical world. Industry 4.0 technologies combine digital information from many different physical and digital sources and locations, including the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics, additive manufacturing, robotics, high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies, advanced materials, and augmented reality. These data sources come together to improve operations in an ongoing cycle known as the physical-to-digital-to-physical (PDP) loop (figure 1).
Throughout this cycle, real-time access to data and intelligence is driven by the continuous and cyclical flow of information and actions between the physical and digital worlds. Many organizations already have some portions of the PDP loop in place, namely, the physical-to-digital (sensors providing data about key assets), and digital-to-digital (digital analytics tools) processes. However, it is the leap from digital back to physical—from connected, digital technologies to action in the physical world—that constitutes the essence of Industry 4.0.7
For further information, see Forces of change: Industry 4.08 and Industry 4.0 and manufacturing ecosystems: Exploring the world of connected enterprises9.
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