Industry 4.- An Approach to Smart Manufacturing


Sk Mohammad Raafi,

Research Assistant, Textile Focus

Industry is the part of an economy that produces highly mechanized and automatized products. The term ‘Industry 4.0’ is originated from a project, promoting the computerization of manufacturing in the high-tech strategy of the German government dated back to 2011. Industry 4.0 is a new level of value chain organization and management that integrates complex physical machinery and devices with interconnected sensors and software which predicts, controls and plans for better business and societal outcomes. The objectives of Industry 4.0 are to achieve a higher level of operational efficiency and productivity, with a higher level of automatization. In an ‘Industry 4.0’ context, factory, besides monitoring and fault diagnosis (done in traditional industries), components and systems are able to gain self-awareness and self-predictiveness, providing management with more insight on the status of the factory.

Five key features of Industry 4.0 are digitization, optimization, and customization of production; automation and adaptation; human machine interaction (HMI); value-added services and businesses, and automatic data exchange and communication. This fourth industrial revolution encapsulates future industry development trends to achieve more intelligent manufacturing processes.

Approaches to Industrial Revolution

Beginning from the first industrial revolution (mechanization through water and steam power) to the mass production and assembly lines using electricity in the second; the latest fourth industrial revolution ‘Industry 4.0’ completely encounters to a wide range of concepts including increments in mechanization and automation, digitalization, networking and miniaturization with smart and autonomous systems. Moreover, Industry 4.0 focuses on the integration of dynamic value-creation networks with regard to the integration of the physical basic system and the software system with other branches and economic sectors.

Figure: Four Industrial Revolutions

Figure: Four Industrial Revolutions (courtesy:

Necessity of Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is neither a new technology, nor a business discipline, but actually a new approach to achieve results that weren’t possible few years ago. Industry 4.0 aims at transforming the usual machineries to self-aware and self-learning machines to progress their overall performance and maintenance management with the contiguous interaction. Smart factories being at the heart of Industry 4.0, will adapt, on board information and advanced communication technology for an evolution in the supply chain and production line, by real time data monitoring, tracking the status and positions of product as well as by sticking to the instructions to control production processes.

The Nine Foundations of Technological Advancement

With ‘Industry 4.0’, the nine advances in technology will transform isolated and optimized cells production into a fully integrated, automated, and optimized production flow. This directs to greater efficiency and change in traditional production relationships among supply chain networks (suppliers, producers, and customers) as well as between human and machine.

Figure: Nine Pillars of Industry 4.0

Figure: Nine Pillars of Industry 4.0 (courtesy:

  1. Big Data and Analytics 

Recently emerged analytics based on large data sets, optimizes production quality, saves energy, and improves equipment service. To support real-time decision making, the sourcing and comprehensive evaluation of data will become standard from an ‘I4’ context. According to Forrester’s definition, Big Data covers four dimensions: Volume of data, Variety of Data, Velocity of generation of new data and analysis and Value of Data. By analyzing previously recorded data, threats occurred in different production processes earlier in the industry can be found out. Besides, this analysis can forecast the arising issues and provide proper solution to stop that from occurring again and again in industry.

  1.  Autonomous Robots

Robots are turning to be autonomous, flexible and cooperative increasingly. An autonomous robot precisely performs autonomous production method and also accomplishes tasks safely within time in the places where human operators are restricted. Their high-end sensors and control units enable close collaboration with humans.


Figure: Application of autonomous robots in different industries.

  1. Simulation

Though simulations of products, materials, and production processes are already used but in future, their extensive application in plant operations will be rendered to leverage real-time data to mirror the physical world in a virtual model. This will facilitate operators to examine and optimize the machine settings for the next product in line in the virtual world before the required physical changeover. This will eventually result in shortening of down-times and reduction of production failures during the start-up phase.

  1. Horizontal and Vertical System Integration

Integration and self-optimization are the two major concerns valued in any industrial organization. Horizontal integration is concerned with digitization across the full value and supply chain where flow of materials, energy and information takes place from suppliers to internal processes to distributors and consumers.

Whereas vertical integration is all about the integration of IT systems at diversified hierarchical production and manufacturing levels such as the field level (interfacing with the production process via sensors and actuators), the control level (regulation of both machines and systems), the process line level or actual production process level (that needs to be monitored and controlled), the operations level (production planning, quality management and so forth) and the enterprise planning level (order management and processing).These levels are merged into one comprehensive solution.

Typical solutions and technologies involved in this vertical integration are PLC (to control manufacturing processes), SCADA (enabling supervisory tasks on various production process level), MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) for the management level and ERP for the enterprise level.

  1. The Industrial Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) implies a worldwide network of uniformly addressed objects (sometimes including even unfinished products) which are enriched with embedded computing and interconnected via standard technologies that enable them to sense data, collect them and send them for a specific purpose. This allows field devices not only to communicate and interact with each other but also to communicate with more centralized controllers, as necessary. Depending on the goal, this could be capturing data regarding movement, location, presence of gases, temperature and many more things. Internet of Things, also known as Internet of Everything (IoE) is comprised of Internet of Service (IoS), Internet of Manufacturing Services (IoMs), Internet of People (IoP), an embedded system and Integration of Information and Communication technology (IICT).

  1. Cyber Security and Cyber Physical Systems (CPS)

Since, ‘Industry 4.0’ involves increased connectivity and use of standard communications protocols; it is of top most priority to protect critical industrial systems and manufacturing lines from cybersecurity threats. Therefore, safe, secure, reliable communications as well as sophisticated identity and access management of machines and users are vital.

Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) are close integration of intelligent physical components, objects and systems with embedded computing and storage possibilities, which get connected through networks and are responsible to implement the smart factory concept of Industry 4.0 in an Internet of Things.
CPS are characterized by decentralization and autonomous behavior of the production process. The uninterrupted interchanging of data is carried out by linking CPS intelligently with the help of cloud systems in real time. By using proper sensors, besides fault diagnosis and repair actions, optimum utilization of each work station with the help of cycle time can be determined. The well-built bonding of the physical, the service and the digital world can advance the quality of information required for planning, optimization and operation of manufacturing systems.

  1. The Cloud

To keep pace with ‘Industry 4.0’, organization needs amplified data sharing across sites and companies to undertake production. “Digital production” is a phenomenon of having the diversified connections of different devices to same cloud to share information to one another, which can be extended to set of machines from a shop floor in addition to the entire plant. Simultaneously, the performance of cloud technologies will improve, achieving reaction times of just several milliseconds or even faster. Consequently, machine data and functionality will increasingly be installed to the cloud, enabling more data-driven services for production systems.

  1. Additive Manufacturing

In the company of Industry 4.0, additive-manufacturing methods will be extensively used to produce small batches of customized products that suggest construction advantages, for instance complex, lightweight designs. Fused Deposition Method (FDM), Selective Laser Melting (SLM), and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) are some of the additive manufacturing technologies that make production faster and cheaper. High-performance, decentralized additive manufacturing systems will shorten transport distances and reduce inventories. To cope up with fast-changing needs of consumers, the threat of increasing individualization of products and reducing time to market are faced by many competitors. The challenges include increasing digitization, IT diffusion and networking of products, optimization of manufacturing resources and processes. Diminishing product life cycles along with the rising demand of customized products seeks further transformation towards organization structures which lead to increased complexity.

  1. Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) involves a set of technologies that make use of an electronic device to view, directly or indirectly, a real-world physical environment that is integrated with virtual elements.  Industry can adopt augmented reality to provide operators with real-time information to improve decision making and working procedures.


Figure: Application of Augmented Reality in Chemical Dosing (Courtesy: Phoenix Contact)

Workers may receive repair instructions displayed directly through augmented-reality glasses on how to replace a particular part as they are looking at the actual system needing repair. In this virtual world, operators can learn to interact with machines. They can also change parameters and retrieve operational data and maintenance instructions.


Figure: Control of a weaving machine via Tablet (Reference: ITA)

To manage competitive advantage, the goal of apparel manufacturing would be minimizing human interference at all levels of manufacturing by using the resources optimally to increase productivity.


Figure: Control of a weaving machine via Tablet (Reference: ITA)

A recent research focusing on the role of Industry 4.0 on the production and services sector of Pakistan conducted a survey questionnaire from a total of 224 employees of textile and logistics companies and the findings revealed that Industry 4.0 has major importance in overcoming the various challenges of the textile and logistics industry of Pakistan. Particularly, five Industry 4.0 factors (big data, smart factory, cyber physical systems (CPS), Internet of things (IoT), and interoperability) are the most valuable to enhance performance. Through these fundamentals, introduction of the latest technology has the potential for enhancing various operations in the considered industries.

Embracing ‘Industry 4.0’, makes it possible to assemble and analyze data across machines, enabling rapid, more flexible and more efficient processes to produce higher-quality goods at minimum possible costs. This manufacturing revolution will undoubtedly boost productivity, shift economics, promote industrial growth, and reshape the profile of the workforce—eventually shifting the competitiveness of companies and regions.


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