Our innovation & startup scouting unit analyzed 12.500+ startups to identify the key drivers and technologies of Industry 4.0. This research is backed by our proprietary AI- and data-driven innovation scouting approach through which we identify what’s next. Connectivity and smart devices provide the foundation for disruptive innovation areas ranging from 3D printing to advanced robotics and predictive analytics, making the shift toward Industry 4.0 all but reversible. Let’s take a look at the six most dominant innovation areas and their applications in Industry 4.0:
Big Data & Predictive Analytics
Used for real-time decision-making, big data plays a key role in creating value. Equipped with big data and analytics, manufacturing companies are able to reduce their downtime while increasing their output. Moreover, due to their capability to foresee the failure of machines, predictive analytics act as an enabler for predictive maintenance and will soon be followed by prescriptive analytics. This technology will suggest decision options and allow companies to take full advantage of the results provided by prescriptive analytics.
Cloud Computing enables the handling of large amounts of data needed to automate production processes – making it a key element in the 4th Industrial Revolution. While cloud technologies are already utilized to provide various solution packages such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Software as a Service (SaaS), they are being advanced further, soon to reach extraordinarily short reaction times (Edge Computing / Edge Intelligence).
Commonly known as 3D Printing, the technology’s development has enforced the usage of other materials than plastics such as metal, ceramic and even biomaterials. Additive Manufacturing highly benefits cost-efficiency of low-volume productions and positively impacts the supply-chain through shorter delivery times and inventory reduction, adding another cornerstone to the decentralized production model.
Despite its many advantages, the connectivity of Industry 4.0 adds a layer of vulnerability. Wearables of the workforce, for example, reveal location and personal data, turning corporate espionage and hackers into a legitimate threat. Companies are at high risk of falling victim to potential cyber attacks, demanding them to increase the security level in manufacturing lines and smart factories.
Ideally, a machine should only be repaired when necessary, meaning at a point when a defect is affecting the machine’s performance but keeping it running is still safe. As discussed earlier, in regards to repairs, predictive maintenance is capable of generating considerable cost reductions, with the cost of repairs estimated to decrease by 12%, thus lowering the cost of planned repair by 30%.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR has already reached the right maturity level to be used in a production environment like smart factories. Proven to increase people and process performances by up to 50%, augmented reality significantly decreases costs emerging from human error or inefficiency. A few of the application areas for AR in Industry 4.0 include Operations, Maintenance & Remote Assistance, Training, Quality Control as well as Safety Management.
Disruptive Industry 4.0 Startups Include:
- Israeli startup Augury allows “machines to talk”. By “listening” to machines the startup anticipates malfunction or failure and currently further develops the machine diagnostics backend of the Internet of Things (IoT).
- Waylay masterminds an intelligent SaaS decision-making platform. The Belgian startup generates a compact logic for easy maintenance – dynamic processes in the cloud, for the cloud.
- German Additive Works makes additive manufacturing less costly. The startup’s solution entails a four-step system called the ASAP Principle (Assessment, Simulation, Adaption, Process), on which their software solution “Amphyon” is built.
- UK-based SQR Systems bridge the secure communications gap between mobile & IoT by enabling companies to protect their data and build secure products by taking away the pain of regulatory compliance and security assurance.
- Netherland-based Semiotic Labs works with Artificial Intelligence (AI), specifically machine learning algorithms and sensors, to optimize the process of predictive maintenance in smart factories.
While these six are the key innovation areas in Industry 4.0, they are far from being the only ones. Robotics, Simulation, Industrial IoT Platforms (IIoT), and Artificial Intelligence alike have an immense influence and shape the future of factories. All of these emerging technologies progress at a rapid level, offering early-movers willing to co-innovate with emerging startups the opportunity to gain competitive advantage.