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Those responsible for the development of Industry 4.0 may be somewhat confused by the number of available technologies and tools within the industrial framework. As a result, firms are afraid to choose tools that do not match the needs of the company and therefore do not generate profits. To simplify this decision-making, below are key solutions for moving towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
What is Industry 4.0 ?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (or Industry 4.0) is a term originating from the World Economic Forum in 2016. It is a concept coined by its founder, Klaus Schwab, who defines it as:
‘’ being characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres’’
<<is not defined by any particular set of emerging technologies themselves, but rather by the transition to new systems that are built on the infrastructure of the digital revolution>>
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is already present in the Spanish business network. In fact, according to the study on it carried out by KPMG:
- 37% of the companies involved prioritise it.
- 84% claim to have already taken action in this regard.
In addition, the current state of affairs has forced entities to start going digital. According to a report by Sage:
- 40% of companies have taken steps towards going digital during the new normal.
- 48% plan to invest in digital transformation.
Advantages of Industry 4.0
Adopting Industry 4.0 solutions brings several benefits to companies, such as:
- Improved production times: by automating actions, reducing errors and allowing workers to invest their time in truly productive activities.
- Higher product and service quality: applying disruptive technologies makes it easier to comply with established quality standards.
- The possibility of creating new products and services.
- Cost reduction.
- Greater security for the workforce.
- Greater adaptability of production to changing circumstances.
- Greater sustainability from an environmental point of view. For example, through paper reduction.
- Improving information flow among departments, as well as with partners, customers and governments.
Main challenges for achieving Industry 4.0
Despite all the benefits, there are still challenges to overcome in order to bring about the Fourth Industrial Revolution in companies. Here are some of the most important ones:
Employee training, sometimes requiring further training to adapt to the new tools.
Initial investment is needed to implement some solutions. This will be compensated over time, although it may be a hindrance initially.
Since these are innovative and relatively new technologies, further efforts will be required to find people specialised in them.
Special care must be taken not to leave out the human factor. Remember that this digital change must put people first.
Digital tools for Industry 4.0
We are engaged into a reality in which technologies like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, biometrics and digital signatures are developing the business processes of the companies. Below is a list of their main applications.
Within the Fourth Industrial Revolution, artificial intelligence is very useful for machines to learn by themselves. They do so based on the data they receive and on the history they contain. This is where concepts such as machine learning and deep learning come into play.
For records management, artificial intelligence algorithms are able to process and analyze documents. This enables both automatic information retrieval and classification of valuable information from the document.
Cloud working is a huge advantage to make work easier in collaborative environments. Through cloud computing, companies can monitor their real-time manufacturing data to make informed decisions.
Cloud computing offers considerable advantages when managing documents that are continuously being generated (e.g., records, quality reports, delivery notes, etc). These electronic documents will always be available to anyone who requests them with the required permissions.
Fingerprint readers, as well as iris or face recognition, or even pads that are able to capture handwritten signatures are technology options for collecting biometric information.
There are multiple uses, from digitally signing documents, to checking in and out, or managing access to some specific areas.
Among the enormous documentation work involved in the proper functioning of an industry, electronic signatures can help streamline these operations. It allows all types of documents to be signed remotely, as well as handling complex signing processes, etc.
In addition, electronic signatures can be integrated with some of the above-mentioned solutions. Below are some examples:
- Digital signature tools, like those offered by Viafirma, use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. OCR is a very useful resource to speed up the transition from paper to digital documents, while extracting metadata and sorting them.
- Cloud computing shapes the cloud or centralized digital signature. It allows us to electronically sign with digital certificates that are stored on secure servers. This enables us to use them anywhere and anytime.
- For an electronic signature to be considered valid, biometric evidence can be used. Images, videos, utterance or handwritten signatures captured on a signature pad are examples of this type of evidence.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is very much present in businesses, and it is now a must in such a demanding competitive environment. There are many reasons to embrace it, overcoming the barriers that are holding back its implementation.
Although many think that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is exclusively focused on machinery and production lines, it also covers other equally relevant aspects. For example, when handling hundreds or thousands of different types of documents.
All this means that these processes must duly automated. This is where digital signatures come into play, as they are able to make the most out of the features offered by other technologies, adding the extra level of agility, security and legal confidence to the business process.