Industry 4.0: Digital Transformation in Manufacturing

Technological innovation has been at the forefront of all three industrial revolutions to date. The first three involved paradigm-changing inventions that included the steam engine, electricity, and computers.

The latest one - known as the “fourth industrial revolution” or “Industry 4.0.” - leverages the use of the internet to synergize all these technologies.



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Industry 4.0 = “Intelligent” Production

The traditional production management methods employed by manufacturing companies are being made obsolete by “intelligent” production that leverages innovative technologies and business models. These include the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced robotics, big data, artificial intelligence/machine learning, virtual and augmented reality, and 3D printing/additive manufacturing.


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The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network created by physical objects that are equipped with specialized software and sensors. These exchange data with systems and other devices over the internet using real-time data analytics to power applications at the residential, commercial, and industrial levels. Applications in smart manufacturing include: 

  • Smart factory floor equipment
  • Wireless inventory trackers
  • Biometric cybersecurity scanners
  • Shipping container and logistics tracking

The use of IoT is poised to completely transform the manufacturing industry from the sourcing of materials straight through to the supply chain and beyond. Information technology (IT) infrastructure must be able to play a unifying role in coordinating how all the elements of IoT work together as part of the greater system.

Robotics integrates engineering with computers for the design, production, and operation of machines that can assist human endeavors. The use of robotics in manufacturing involves automated machines that are programmable and capable of moving on three or more axes in either fixed or mobile positions. Their use includes industrial manufacturing sectors such as automotive, electronics, aerospace, and textiles.

Big data is a field that emerged from the requirement of new methods to extract, analyze and derive insights from very large data sets. Applications associated with big data are poised to play a fundamental role in industry 4.0 due to the connectivity between all parts of the manufacturing value chain. However, for data to have value it must be organized and usable, which is where integration platforms like MuleSoft bring so much value integrating and organizing data.

Artificial intelligence refers to intelligence exhibited by a programmable machine that mimics aspects of human intelligence. Machine learning takes that a step further by using computer algorithms to continuously improve the way a program functions. The use of these two technologies together has profound potential in manufacturing from design to quality control.

Augmented reality refers to the use of a device to overlay computer-generated information over a real-world physical environment while virtual reality immerses the user in a completely simulated environment. Known collectively as Extended Reality (XR), this technology is rapidly finding a place in manufacturing through its use in product development and employee training.

The idea of pressing a button to order a product and having it produced on demand was once the domain of science fiction. Additive manufacturing - also known as 3D printing - brought this futuristic idea to life through technology that produces items by successively applying layers of material to create a final product. 

While both these terms are used interchangeably, the key difference is the industrial vs. consumer focus. Large-scale businesses typically use the term additive manufacturing when referring to the mass production of end-use objects.

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Productivity is the key to success in manufacturing and while the productivity of industrial workers in the United States has increased by 47% over the past 20 years, these gains are now seeing diminishing returns according to a McKinsey report.

Adopting digital technologies has been the solution for manufacturing leaders all over the world. According to a survey by a leading consulting group, nearly 90% of manufacturing leaders understand that technology adoption can lower costs and increase productivity. Other benefits include increased connectivity within the entire manufacturing value chain, from factory operations to service and sales. 

An integration strategy plays a fundamental role in increasing productivity by connecting essential data across every facet of the business.

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<H2> Industry 4.0 Helps Companies Overcome Modern Challenges </H2>

Industry 4.0 Helps Companies Overcome Modern Challenges

The innovative technologies that are emerging in Industry 4.0 can help companies overcome challenges that directly affect their bottom line.

IoT applications help send real-time data across various aspects of the manufacturing process while advanced robotics increases profits from improved efficiency. Virtual/augmented reality allows companies to create integrative testing environments for products while additive manufacturing can reduce or eliminate supply chain issues.

IT Solutions Overcome Multiple Barriers to Digital Transformation 

The largest barrier to digital transformation is the way businesses typically viewed their IT operations.

The businesses of the past typically incorporated technology through in-house teams that implemented 3rd-party software and custom code across their departments. 

Industry 4.0 requires more than just patches and small-scale integrations. It requires a large-scale shift in how manufacturers operate. IT departments must play a leading top-down role in operations through the collection, distribution, and processing of data across all parts of a business operation.

IT Modernization Makes Industry 4.0 A Reality

API-led connectivity is a new, innovative approach to integration that allows manufacturers to create an application network that synergizes the entire manufacturing value chain. MuleSoft enables you to modernize the entire system at once while facilitating internal collaboration across every aspect of a manufacturing operation.

IT modernization can digitize the entire production process, allowing companies to move away from outdated software and hardware to new technologies that leverage the latest in server and software technology, such as MuleSoft’s AnyPoint Platform, which allows manufacturers to connect data and systems from their various suppliers and distributors.

AVIO solutions connect your enterprise by allowing all systems to share data that can improve user experiences and unlock legacy data. They empower businesses to evolve by improving code quality and enabling accelerated release cycles through API-led connectivity in addition to improving responsiveness and enabling innovation.

AVIO Leads Manufacturers into The Fourth Industrial Revolution

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Digital disruption in manufacturing is here, and embracing digital innovation has created an immediate need for businesses to modernize their IT systems on a greater scale than ever before.

IT modernization requires looking at the big picture with an eye on the future. The digital transformation of manufacturing has brought us ground-breaking, disruptive technologies that have transformed every aspect of the manufacturing value cycleIT modernization is the key to bringing it all together.

AVIO leads organizations in empowering digital transformation initiatives through the application of IT technologies that can disrupt and change entire markets. We provide solutions that empower companies to enter the new industrial revolution with confidence and optimism so they prosper throughout the fourth industrial revolution and beyond.