At TechSPARK, our theme for November is Industry 4.0 – otherwise known as the fourth industrial revolution. But what is Industry 4.0? And why are we dedicating a whole month of content to this topic?

As the digital revolution is defined by Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industry 4.0 summarises the current trend of automation and data analytics in manufacturing tech. 

Our ability to analyse large amounts of data has in turn made the existence of machine learning possible. The key that sets Industry 4.0 apart is that these machines can now make informed decisions without any human involvement. 

A brief timeline 

The term Industry 4.0 can be easier understood within the context of its journey. 

Famously, the first industrial revolution involved mechanisation through water and steam power. The next step was mass production and incorporating electricity into processes to increase scope and efficiency. This is where Industry 3.0 comes in, which can be characterised by the adoption of computers and early automation processes. Industry 4.0 essentially builds upon this to elevate processes beyond human capabilities, analysing data at newfound speeds and developing automation at exponential rates. 

This has been formative in creating the smart factory, autonomous machinery and vehicles, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and 3D printing. 

Where does big data fit in? 

Big data is at the heart of Industry 4.0. It’s the driving force behind the revolutionary shift in manufacturing and what makes AI so invaluable. 

Smart factories have emerged from machines that collect copious amounts of data, and are able to efficiently analyse this data to identify problems, patterns and details in order to consistently improve and evolve. 

Industry 4.0 effectively provides the means for manufacturers to optimise operations at an extremely rapid pace. 

The same goes for logistics and supply chain management. A connected system has the ability to react quickly and therefore adapt itself in the face of a myriad of possible issues. The dawn of autonomous equipment also further enhances the possibilities of the smart factory, in conjunction with robotics, IoT, cloud computing and 3D Printing.

Industry 4.0 in the South West 

There are a plethora of companies working in Industry 4.0 in the South West. To contextualise what the term means in real time applications, here are a few examples. 

Ada Mode creates game changing AI for machine health monitoring and industrial process optimisation. 

Their mission is to ensure people remain at the heart of digital transformation, hence why their digital twins combine powerful AI with operator knowledge to reach new levels of up-time, output and waste reduction.

EDF Energy commends their work: “Ada Mode’s machine health digital twin enabled us to significantly reduce our turbine maintenance costs and reduce outage duration. This technology is now central to our long-term maintenance strategy.”

The automation of networks also falls under Industry 4.0. Zeeta is solving the problems behind network automation through the approach of network modernisation. 

It starts with the discovery and complete Visualisation of the true condition of your network. After that, the efficiency of the network is Optimised to achieve stability and high-levels of performance. Finally, a resilient network is delivered through Automation of its operations to ‘Unlock the Power of the Network’.

Keep your eyes peeled for more features set to land this month to learn more about Industry 4.0 and the South West companies shaping the sector.

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.