Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things (IoT)

I come across confusions about Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things (IoT) very often. People actually ask me, where I make the separation. Well there is no separation; these are just completely different topics.
Because of that, let me give you a “simple definition” of both.

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is all about manufacturing and logistics processes. (If you don’t know yet about Industry 4.0 I suggest to read this article first.)

In a first step, the processes are made visual by IT systems. That means, the systems indicate the states, effectiveness and/or other information about the processes.
What I still see very often, is that companies have order sheets. I mean sheets from paper. These sheets walk through the production flow with their according units. After the goods left the factory, the sheets are put to any kind of filing or go straight to the garbage.
With Industry 4.0 you collect the data digitally. Let’s say by passing a barcode to every unit and scan it at every workstation. Of course you might enrich it with further data, such as quality for instance.

In a second step, the IT based systems support your processes.
Imagine an employee needs to fetch the current order to be processed. Without any IT support he would walk to the operation manager’s office and then back to the machine, to get the order. With the support of IT based systems, he might use a tablet to watch the order specification. Or, in a higher maturity, he doesn’t know about the orders. This is, because the machines know by themselves and report the data back to the order management.

So Industry 4.0 is all about automating and digitalizing processes for manufacturing and logistic purposes.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of Things or IoT is a technical concept and technologies to connect machines and devices to each other.
This is, of course, nothing new. The new thing is that, they know what information they need to share with each other, without human interaction. And it is also about the discovery, so they know which other devices are available and how they affect each other.

Take a train for instance. The train may consist of different wagons which may be of different types. Now the train initially don’t know how many wagons there are and how many doors each of the wagons has. But the train must not start to roll until every door is closed.
When you connect a new wagon, the same condition is true for the doors of that one.
In addition to the doors, the train must not start, when any emergency break or smoke detector is activated.
There are now three completely different types of sensors and an unknown number of them. The train must be able to discover them and read their states.

Before the discussion starts again: I know that normally trains are not built that way. It’s just an example. But I know at least from new types of busses, which behave exactly this way through auto discovery.

Differences between Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things (IoT)

As I already mentioned, Industry 4.0 is about processes.
The technologies are not in focus. The customers don’t care about how it is built, nor how you like it. If you are able to implement the requirements with magic, do it! I’m pretty sure the customer just chooses the solution with the less risks and costs (and it’s very likely that magic is the one ;-) ).
Normally a customer does not have a lot of knowhow in such technologies. Otherwise he would not ask for external companies. And that is why technology is meaningless to them.

Interception of Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things (IoT)

The intersection of these two topics is on the data collection. When you collect data and share information with machines and robots, you typically do that with Internet of Things (IoT) or Machine to Machine (M2M). But be aware that this is not mandatory or sometimes just not relevant.

On the other side IoT is not limited to industry. It might be used for vending machines to tell a service employee, when the slots are empty and needs to be refilled.

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