Industry 4.0 is here, or at least in a taxi and just about to pull up outside. Rexroth has a fully functional smart factory in place, and the Internet of Things is a reality. “We used to have to send out a team to find a problem in a system,” an engineer told us yesterday, “but now we can see where the problem is within two feet, and send just one person.”
Issues that are slowing down the march of Industry 4.0 include the numerous proprietary languages that keep devices from communicating with one another easily, and the concerns about security that cause decision makers to choose not to put machines into communication with one another.
Improving automation and optimizing machine maintenance aren’t the only benefits for Industry 4.0 and IoT. Smart machines will also provide a stream of data that will encourage innovation and fine-tune decision making. Organizing and using the data will become as integral to Industry 4.0 as new sensors.
Rexroth suggests that smart devices are key. Leveraging the software already in use or in development for smartphones and tablets could lead to a level of consistency in Industry 4.0 that will overcome the barriers.