Industry 4.0

Designing the next generation of connected factories and workforces

Jeremy Vanhoegaerden, Sales Executive – Director, Cognizant

IoT and real-time technologies enable compelling Industry 4.0 solutions

Even though the impact of digital technology on manufacturing and industrial companies has already been game-changing, much of the scale of that change has yet to be realized. The future is bright, with the next iteration of digital technologies emphasizing the use of more and varied data from brownfield assets, historical data sets and new Internet of Things (IoT) devices, along with a move to real-time systems and process management. The notion of the factory as a real-time, fully connected ecosystem is the reality of today, and autonomous manufacturing operations are the goal of tomorrow.

The way industrial organizations use data will change significantly, beginning with new data acquisition models that drive fresh ways of working. Industrial companies will make their processes highly responsive to “instant” data from IoT, other parts of the manufacturing process and external sources—all of it delivered with greater context that will allow it to be used in more meaningful ways. Meanwhile, more machine-to-machine communication will support higher levels of automation and autonomy, as well as faster adaptation to changing conditions.

This new data structure will become a foundational platform that companies use to support the most innovative Industry 4.0 initiatives. A combination of technologies (IoT, edge computing, augmented reality and mobility) promises a huge competitive advantage in both speed and efficiency.

Digitization is the glue that binds human ingenuity and machine intelligence

As industrial firms develop their strategies for the future, leveraging the workforce continues to be essential. Human ingenuity, experience and knowledge remain unmatched; expanding on them with automation will be the key to success. Machine and artificial intelligence will deliver this leverage by sorting through large amounts of data and providing insights in seconds. These technologies provide employees with new ways of interacting with production lines, assets and their co-workers, optimized by digital intelligence.

This move to digitally enhanced operations will transform the classic operations management model. One of the most significant changes will be a holistic systems engineering model that looks at the entire industrial operation, not single components of it. It is digitization that makes this possible; technology can incorporate and evaluate the large amount of data, impossible to assimilate for humans, that comes from this holistic view. Another change in the operations model will involve using digital intelligence to offload tasks from staff that technology can do far more quickly, freeing people to do what they do best—make adaptive decisions in a single, connected environment. 

An essential element of digital industrial operations is the design of a new operating model that enables systems to guide or advise workers and supervisors. Eliminating decision-making based on intuition is a huge step forward because intuition is not consistent or replicable. Worse, it is impossible, unless data is properly captured, to continually optimize operations. With new industrial models, not only is decision-making improved, but it is also possible to review the results and assess the impacts of these decisions.

The result is a synergistic relationship across the entire process, with human ingenuity applied at the most appropriate points of the digital factory. The digital foundation empowers both systems and people.

For more information on how to transition your organization to a full implementation of Industry 4.0, contact  Jeremy Vanhoegaerden, Sales Executive - Director, for an executive briefing.