Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 refers to a data-driven and intelligent interconnection of machines and processes with the help of continuously developing information technology.


With Industry 4.0, we are entering a new age of the production of goods and the flow of processes. Machines are making independent decisions, products are being enhanced by technologies, and information is exchanged in real-time.

What are the benefits and challenges of intelligent factories, cities or buildings? And what are the steps you should take on your way to Industry 4.0.? Read on.


What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 represents the fourth industrial revolution, encapsulating more than just the manufacture of products in factories. Following on from the third revolution, which involved the introduction of computers and automation in production facilities, Industry 4.0 goes one step further and is now relevant to intelligent cities, buildings, and networks, among other things.

The aim is to enable computers to make independent decisions about the production process or take proactive action without human intervention. To this end, machines, processes, and production goods are intelligently networked using information and communication technology via sensors. This enables the components to work with and react to each other.


What are the benefits of Industry 4.0?

Improved productivity & increased efficiency

Intelligent control using Industry 4.0 technologies can increase productivity while using resources more cost-effectively and efficiently. Many plants are often involved in the manufacture of a product. Digitally networked, the individual steps of the production process can be coordinated better, faster, and the utilization of the machines can be planned efficiently.

During production, machines are constantly monitored to keep downtimes to a minimum. Automatic traceability processes and automated reporting also contribute to increased efficiencies. 

Cut costs

Investments are necessary to convert to Industry 4.0. However, thanks to the intelligent technologies, these preproduction costs can be recouped in a short time, as the manufacturing costs in the plants are greatly reduced by the following optimizations:

  • More efficient use of resources
  • Faster production or service processes
  • Less downtime of machines and production lines
  • Higher product quality
  • Less material and product waste
  • The reduced total cost of ownership


Another advantage of Industry 4.0 is its easy adaptation of processes. Thanks to intelligent monitoring and transparent processes, you can quickly react to changes in the market. The division of the processes into modules makes it possible to flexibly assemble the process for a new task.

Intelligently networked, production can be scaled up or down rapidly, new products can be introduced, and simple production sequences can be changed or blended. Even individualized products can be produced in small quantities at affordable prices.

Higher customer satisfaction

With Industry 4.0, you can increase product availability and quality, while at the same time increasing customer satisfaction. Because personalized products can be produced faster and easier, you can offer your customers a greater variety of products. If your customer has a problem with a product, you can quickly resolve it with automated track-and-trace capabilities.

Unlimited and automatic knowledge exchange

Regardless of location, time zone, platform, or other factors, production lines, processes, and machines communicate with each other through Industry 4.0 technologies. The knowledge learned from a sensor on one machine can be quickly shared throughout the entire company and also transferred to other processes.

This makes it possible, for example, for a single sensor to bring about an immediate improvement for several production lines or processes worldwide - all without human intervention, but solely through machine-to-machine communication.

Regulatory compliance

Traceability, quality checks, and data logging are just some of the components that contribute to easy and automated compliance in Industry 4.0. These components are especially useful in the pharmaceutical industry and the production of medical devices, replacing cumbersome manual processes.

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What are the challenges for Industry 4.0?

To take advantage of the benefits of a smart factory, it is essential that you first deal with the challenges of Industry 4.0.

Strategy for the full potential

Consider the business model at the beginning. Are the model and the services offered up-to-date or should the model be innovatively adapted to the new technological possibilities? A changeover to automation and network setup is expensive - estimate in advance whether the change is worthwhile. Only in this way can a profitable return on investment be achieved.

The next step is to ask the question: How can the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) be best exploited? In order to achieve operational goals such as cost reduction or increased efficiency, it is not enough to simply implement the technologies into your processes, products, or services. Only with a strategy can you efficiently achieve the three fundamental goals of a transition to Industry 4.0:

  1. Resolution of traditional data silos
  2. Efficient distribution of results beyond the boundaries of the company
  3. Enterprise architecture compatibility with standard frameworks

Cyber risk

The increasing use of technology and networking within Industry 4.0 provides hackers with greater attack surfaces. It is now possible to manipulate or paralyze entire production chains. The security of the entire system must be considered a common goal for both corporate and production IT. This requires new working models that combine the knowledge and methods of traditional and automation cybersecurity.


What are the solutions for Industry 4.0?

In order to plan your entry into Industry 4.0 and to build the best possible strategy, suitable enterprise architecture is essential. It analyzes the complexity created by networked application landscapes and reduces sprawling redundancies.

With the help of the enterprise architecture, the construction or roadmap of the enterprise can be presented with all important elements and their interactions, in order to be better prepared for the challenges of the future.

Important building blocks here are business capabilities, application portfolio management, and technology risk management. Business capabilities illustrate what (not how) a company does to achieve its goals and provide the basis for designing the IT architecture.

Application portfolio management is the solution for keeping track of the applications in use to spot redundancies and save costs. With the help of Technology risk management, you avoid IT failures or data protection violations caused by obsolete or unsupported technologies.

The nine pillars of Industry 4.0 

Industry 4.0 manufacturing is based on state-of-the-art digital technologies. These technology trends form the nine main pillars of Industry 4.0:

1. Big Data analysis

Data sets influence the strategy and daily operations of an enterprise. In the age of Industry 4.0 manufacturing, data is collected and evaluated from various sources such as machines, production goods, and systems. All four classic Big Data approaches are used here:

  1. Detailed analysis (Descriptive Analytics)
  2. Precise diagnosis (Diagnostic Analytics)
  3. Looking to the future (Predictive Analytics)
  4. Instructions (Prescriptive Analytics)

On the basis of these analyses, you maintain an overview of current market trends and customer preferences, can minimize risks, and react quickly to changes.

2. Cloud computing

The cloud transmits and stores data and makes it available for further use. It offers an ideal solution, especially for large amounts of data that are shared across multiple locations and company boundaries. There are three different models for a cloud platform: Saas (Software-as-a-Service), IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service).

For example, the industry can benefit from intelligent home networking, better maintenance services, regular updates, and personal assistants. Reducing energy consumption compared to stationary storage not only saves your company money but also protects the environment. Especially with the increasing complexity of cloud landscapes, an Enterprise Architecture Framework is essential. Only in this way can the agility of digital innovation projects be maintained.

3. Autonomous robots

Robots have been around for some time. However, they have never been as advanced as they are today. They bring a decisive advantage in industrial use when solving tasks that are beyond the capabilities of humans.

4. Simulations

Simulations make it possible to get to know potential operational activities before implementation. Where can something go wrong? How can I prepare for the challenges? By mapping the physical world in a virtual model, machine settings can be tested and optimized in advance. This allows you to react to potential issues in advance, reduce production times, and increase quality.

5. Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things is one of the main pillars of Industry 4.0 Manufacturing. It enables communication between individual components. Every device or product collects data and sends them to the Internet, where it can be processed and distributed. IoT is strongly dependent on a hierarchy. While devices at the lowest level collect data, highly complex devices make decisions based on this data. The decentralization of analysis and decision-making enables real-time responsiveness.

6. Horizontal and vertical system integration

Horizontal integration considers the entire supply chain. It allows machines, IoT devices, and other components to work together seamlessly across company boundaries. For example, manufacturers, suppliers, and customers merge into a digitally networked, value-added unit.

Vertical integration considers the entire value chain. It optimizes processes within individual hierarchical levels - for example, production management level, corporate planning level, or execution level. The various systems of production are integrated to form a consistent solution.  

7. Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is probably better known as 3D printing. With these manufacturing processes, it is possible to develop customer-specific products in a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly way.

8. Augmented reality

Augmented reality is used in Industry 4.0 manufacturing to create a connection between man and machine. Humans can look at something and get a computer-generated idea of how it will look and perform. For example, designers can see and experience a product before project completion.

9. Cybersecurity

With Industry 4.0 manufacturing, the use of technologies and networking of different components is continuously on the rise. Protecting the production process from possible cyberattacks is critical to avoid disruptions. Cybersecurity protects data and also detects harmful patterns to prevent unauthorized interventions before they happen.

Align Global Manufacturing through Application Rationalization

5 steps to success in Industry 4.0

In general, for the right concept of introducing Industry 4.0 manufacturing, each company must be considered differently. Various factors like factory requirements, product types and variants, or production processes play an important role in the path to Industry 4.0. However, there are five general steps that have been identified for a successful implementation.

1. Networking

Intelligent networking is the first step on the road to success in Industry 4.0: Machines, products (parts), and other components are connected to a common network. Through machine-to-machine communication, data can be used for automated production and autonomous decisions can be made.

2. Collect

Once the networking has been successfully implemented, production data is collected and stored. For safety, production and quality data can be viewed and tracked at any time. Special attention should be paid to the security of data storage and data transport. Especially when handling sensitive and confidential information.  

3. Visualize

The visualization of the data on predefined dashboards supports the discovery of insights. The data can be broken down to the smallest detail to provide an overview of, for example:

  • the most frequent errors per machine and shift,
  • the overall quality of production, or
  • the most common machine errors that reduce quality.

For the right conclusions and to improve production, the interpretation of the data must be done by an expert with deep process knowledge.

4. Analyze

Here, the aim is to imitate the knowledge that experts gain from data. The plant data must be linked to process knowledge. This makes knowledge available around the clock - improving productivity, quality, and uptime. Optimization tasks can be implemented by regular experts.

5. Automation

In this step, the actual mission of Industry 4.0 is fulfilled. The machines organize and decide independently during the entire production process. Plant operators only approve parameter changes that are carried out by the machines themselves. Maintenance personnel is coordinated by the machines that need service.



Industry 4.0 is the future standard for staying competitive in the market and fully exploiting innovation potential. The be-all and end-all for a successful entry into Industry 4.0 is a precise overview of the company and the development of a future-oriented strategy.

The IT sector, in particular, plays a key role here, as the growing number of applications and increasing networking requirements are more demanding than ever. This makes it all the more important to rationalize IT applications to the bare essentials and standardize uniform applications across the enterprise.

This is exactly where LeanIX comes in. At the NORMA Group we have successfully implemented the roadmap for the rationalization of applications.

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