The Fourth Industrial Revolution - Industry 4.0

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🧑‍💻 Rubén Sánchez
📆 June 1st, 2022
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is not about new Apps or new technologies. It is about a new era, new ways of thinking, and new ways of doing business. ― Nicky Verd, Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted

The Industrial Revolution began in the eighteenth century and was characterized by the use of the steam engine and new materials for energy sources, such as coal. Thanks to these advances, it went from an economy based on hand-produced methods to one based on machines.

Later, in the Second Industrial Revolution, at the end of the 19th century, with the appearance of automated machines, a new economic and commercial order arose. A period marked by the development of industries and the appearance of new energies such as electricity and oil.

The Third Industrial Revolution was in the mid-1940s also known as the 'Information Society'. The communication technology of the Internet and the renewable energies of the 21st century gave rise to great innovations, such as the intelligent electricity distribution network or the appearance of hybrid cars.

Currently, with the implementation of technology in companies, we are experiencing the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The digitization of the industry and services is transferred to all areas, building agile and collaborative companies, which improve their products and services aimed at a public that is fully managed digitally.

About Industry 4.0

The Industry 4.0. also known as the fourth industrial revolution, is characterized by increasing automation and the use of smart machines and factories, tones of data helping to produce more efficiently and productively throughout the value chain.

We talk essentially about efficiency. By collecting more plant data and combining it with other company operational data, a smart factory can achieve information transparency and better decisions.

In a competitive market, decision-making is essential for the improvement of the industry itself as well as for future decision-making.

The benefits are clear, improvements in productivity and automation, resilience and agility, adaptability to the market or the economy, and sustainable and scalable solutions without sacrificing profitability.

Why is it so important?

If we observe how the industry has changed in the last 20 years, where to manufacture a box of wine a lot of personnel was required at each stage (from the process of washing the bottles to the palletizing process), today the number of people involved in each of the stages of the process it is getting smaller every day with the new technologies.

Processes are increasingly automated and this produces cost savings, as well as greater productivity and competitiveness. With industry 4.0 we try to achieve innovative solutions, optimizing logistics processes.

Data as a central point

The central point in industry 4.0 is how data is managed. The use of technologies such as machine learning, cloud computing, and big data is becoming commonplace. How data is managed is the key to improving the performance, productivity, and efficiency of industrial processes.

The challenge to exercise good and effective data control is to provide tons of data in actions that lead to more efficient and transparent processes. Common problems with common industries are related to data :

  • Is collected too infrequently
  • Haves silos between different departments and processes
  • Has no clear meaning and it is used to analyze but not to decide in real-time
  • Is hard and difficult to access
  • Is not stored securely and sensitive information is not anonymized

All these challenges represent one of the main obstacles to implementing the new IT model that companies need.

Cloud solutions

There are infrastructure providers that simplify all these processes that in the past were authentic architectural gibberish. A good example is AWS IoT SiteWise.

AWS IoT SiteWise is a fully managed AWS IoT service used to collect, organize, and analyze data. SiteWise is built to collect data on the plant floor and upload it to the AWS cloud. The data ingested and modeled in AWS IoT SiteWise is stored in a scalable and time-optimized internal data store. The main goals that you can achieve are:

  • Collect, manage, and visualize data from all sources of industrial equipment without developing additional software.
  • Identify and resolve issues faster by remotely monitoring equipment performance.
  • Optimize processes with insights from automated and customizable data visualizations.
  • Collect and process industrial data locally, creating hybrid industrial applications that work both on-premise and in the cloud

But AWS is not the only one offering industry solutions. Google Cloud IoT solutions also provide solutions for Industry 4.0. Google Cloud IoT services gather real-time insights, at the edge or in the cloud. It allows us to do ad hoc analysis with BigQuery, advanced analytics, and ML with Vertex AI, and visualize results in Google Data Studio.

Also is it possible to integrate IoT assets with Google Maps Platform, helping to visualize the location in real-time, where they travel, and how often they moved Also, they offer out-of-box support for leading brands like Intel.

Do predictive maintenance, real-time asset tracking, logistics and supply chain management or smart cities and buildings is nowadays a reality.

Azure plays in the market with Device Update for IoT Hub. A platform that customers can use to wirelessly publish, distribute and manage updates for everything from tiny sensors to gateways.

The solutions offered by the cloud are increasingly sophisticated and cover an incredible amount of needs. It is possible to have an infrastructure that was unthinkable years ago and only pay for its use.

Security becomes essential

Nowadays, IoT is in our daily life and probably an insecure device with an exploitable vulnerability sits in your house or your office. All these devices such as speakers, cameras, access control readers, thermostats, and even lights..., can be and will be the Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

These IoT devices will be seamlessly integrated into our modern lives to improve comfort, efficiency, and control of our environments, and today they are notoriously insecure. This is due to the constrained nature of device hardware and their limited computational capacity.

Some of the models used to alleviate this lack of security are the zero trust model or the VLANs.

Zero Trust Model:

The term “zero trust” was coined by Forrester analyst John Kindervag in his study, when he explained the importance of inherent “untrust” when it comes to network traffic, regardless of where it comes from.

However, many of the notions expressed with "zero-trust networks" have their origin in a much older concept, proposed in 2004 by the Jericho Forum, called de-parametrization. Perimeter security is carried out through firewalls and perimeter protection in order to keep intruders out. The flaw with this strategy is the lack of protection once the intruders have managed to breach the perimeter.

De-parameterization is a security strategy that involves removing the standard "border" security that separates a network from the internet, and instead creating a multi-layered, segmented security system based on encryption and authentication. Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) provides layered security through constant re-authentication and inherent mistrust of all devices, users, and actions, whether or not they exist within the perimeter

There are countless cloud services designed to offer this type of security.

VLANS:

VLANs offer security and segmentation. VLANs allow us to create logically independent networks, therefore, we can isolate them so that they only have an Internet connection, and deny traffic from one VLAN to another.

Also, VLANs give flexibility. Thanks to the VLANs we will be able to place the different devices in one subnet or another, easily and quickly, and have communication policies where we allow or deny traffic to other VLANs or to the Internet

This will allow the creation of VLANS architecture, for example

  • VLAN 1 is used for the main company LAN
  • VLAN 2 is used for trusted IoT, in which the security department allows access to the Internet
  • VLAN 3 is used for isolated (untrusted) IoT devices.

The smart decision-making that characterizes the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have a clear positive impact on our lives. Companies that ride the wave will increase productivity while responding effectively to demanding market demand.

Rubén Sánchez

Founding member of The Crafters Lab

Rubén is a software developer and founding member of The Crafters Lab.

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