Industry 4.0 is characterized by capabilities that allow manufacturers to anticipate and reduce errors while simultaneously reacting to evolving market conditions quickly.
This kind of smart manufacturing relies on the embedded software and sensors in machines and robotics and automated guided vehicles communicating in near-real time to send data over powerful, 5G wireless networks.
Assisted by a 5G network, manufacturers can use smart manufacturing solutions as they work to develop:
- Supply chain insights and improvements
- Better product quality and extended machine lifetime
- Connected factories with greater visibility into each other’s workflows
- Protection from increased cybersecurity threats
Ultimately, successful smart manufacturing solutions are measured by their ability to infuse near real-time data and insights into supply chains and products, so manufacturers can respond to economic, geopolitical and weather fluctuations both local and worldwide. This is Enterprise Intelligence.
Key technologies of smart manufacturing
Industry 4.0 brings automated decisions with real-time data and analytics.
Smart manufacturing, or Manufacturing 4.0, requires the integration of these four key technologies:
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
IIoT uses sensors to collect data from machines, robots, components and products to capture near-real-time location, performance and condition data.
All of this data is captured and stored in the cloud, which provides the storage volume, scalability and cost-efficiency to manage massive volumes of data. Data can be shared and accessed with other organizations to allow the business to operate as one.
Analytics systems that are powered by machine learning and AI use all the data that the business captures in the cloud to identify patterns and insights that no human analyst could detect. The data can be used for analytics and to make decisions, or the analytics can trigger automation that allows the smart factory to manage itself.
Security in manufacturing
Any connected device in the smart factory can be a target for cybercriminals, competitors seeking intellectual property secrets or even state actors seeking to disrupt their rivals’ critical industries. Automated security and cloud management services can continually test and patch vulnerabilities to help IT staff keep up as the attack surfaces.
5G connectivity will make manufacturing faster, more efficient and more reliable than ever before by sending large amounts of data across many devices and sensors that can improve every day and mission-critical applications.
5G in manufacturing
Address challenges and deliver solutions with 5G connectivity.
91% of manufacturers believe 5G connectivity will be important to the overall future of their business.1
The low-latency, high-bandwidth connectivity of 5G will be essential as manufacturers scale their efforts and want the same consistent, reliable products and processes as they grow their teams, build factories and develop new workflows.
Using America’s most reliable 5G network,2 manufacturers can:
- Make fast, informed decisions through rapid insights from production data
- Improve quality by eliminating recurring production issues
- Respond to changing processes and challenges through real-time communication and collaboration
- Support high-speed data transfers
- Create transparent and responsive supply chains using low-latency 5G
Get factories future-ready with a holistic view of all that you do.
Smart factories use technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and multi-access edge computing (MEC) for the purpose of making factories safer and more productive.
- Consider these smart factory use cases that show how AI, ML and MEC are helping manufacturers reduce costs and increase efficiencies.
- Intelligent monitoring with IoT sensors and cameras can help observe production and equipment with greater clarity than ever before.
- Manufacturing analytics software that includes robust AI and ML capabilities can interpret trends and patterns to help predict performance issues and dramatically reduce downtime and disruption.
- 5G edge computing can help identify products with missing or broken parts so they can be removed long before they reach store shelves or customers, improving the end-user experience and your brand’s reputation for quality.
- Robotics and custom manufacturing can help factories monitor hard-to-see equipment and assist workers with dangerous jobs.
AI in manufacturing
Combining AI with 5G makes supply chains stronger and safer.
We can’t talk about smart manufacturing without emphasizing the role that AI plays in the 4th Industrial Revolution.
A number of use cases reveal how AI can assist manufacturers, and we believe AI can be especially helpful when it comes to manufacturing safety and manufacturing logistics.
AI-powered supply chains bring near-real-time logistics.
AI, in coordination with augmented reality (AR), offers you a holistic view of your supply chain so you can:
- Minimize production downtime by aligning production and delivery schedules
- Automate ordering and fault identification in the delivery chain to boost efficiency and reduce human error
- Control environmental impacts by using near-real-time data to consolidate and streamline delivery and distribution processes
Use AI and AR to help improve safety and reduce injuries across your operations.
Augmented reality (AR) powered by 5G AI can help you strategically address inefficiencies before they threaten safety and business objectives by:
- Preventing injuries and related lost work time
- Providing immersive experiential training, passing process knowledge to new operators
- Identifying changes in environments that aren’t detectable by humans
Digital twin technology
Enhance current operations.
Predict future opportunities.
Digital twin (DT) technology creates simulations of an actual production process and enables on-the-fly decision making—which can generate more opportunities to reduce waste, speed up processes and limit energy use.3
By creating a virtual replica of physical assets, processes and systems on a 5G network, manufacturers can use digital twin technology to provide near real-time insights into product and organizational performance and could see improvements such as:
- Reduced product defects resulting from machine wear or improper operation with near-real-time monitoring, which controls defect-related rework and the cost of repairing worn machines
- Faster, more effective training prior to production with DT and 5G-based virtual reality (VR) models
- Boosted competitiveness through continual performance adjustments based on real-world data streams
Smart manufacturing is solving real-world issues.
Check out some smart manufacturing use cases.
Tate & Lyle cut costs by more than 10%.
Tate & Lyle, a global food and drink supplier, needed a new, transport-agnostic infrastructure to drive global expansion plans. Verizon installed remote circuits to maintain performance, even in isolated, hard-to-reach locations.
ABP solved historical connectivity issues.
Associated British Ports (ABP) Southampton is one of the U.K.’s busiest ports and handles millions of containers and vehicles each year. ABP’s productivity was being hampered by “notspots” across its 726 acres. A private 5G proof of concept from Verizon led to an immediate boost in productivity.
Fujifilm Group can now detect and end threats across several overseas locations.
Fujifilm wanted to extend uniform cybersecurity protection across each of its four business units and lay the groundwork for secure remote working. It turned to Verizon’s Advanced Security Operations Center for 24/7 global surveillance to strengthen the Fujifilm Group’s cybersecurity monitoring and intelligence.
Smart manufacturing FAQs
Smart manufacturing leverages the transformative technology of Industry 4.0, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Industrial Internet of Things and mobile edge computing, to gain efficiencies, provide greater safety and security, and build and move quality products now and in the future.
One of the biggest benefits of smart manufacturing is having a holistic view of all your manufacturing processes and products so you can make near-real-time decisions with speed and accuracy with technology like 5G, manufacturing analytics and robotics at your side.
Even though definitions of Industry 4.0 can vary, at its core, it’s about the evolution of technology and how it’s used in our workforce and economy.
For manufacturing, Industry 4.0 is a shift from automated work fueled by technology such as robots, artificial intelligence and smart devices to more intelligent work powered by 5G, digital twin technology and virtual and augmented reality, just to name a few transformative tools.
This level of intelligence can help manufacturers make big, positive changes like:
- Strengthening supply chains
- Detecting and stopping security threats early and often
- Reducing downtime resulting from equipment failure
- Improving the quality of products and the delivery processes
- Keeping workers safe from injury
With massive bandwidth and low latency, 5G technology can allow manufacturers to get near-real-time insights into their processes and optimize operations.
Through 5G, manufacturers can monitor multiple worksites and supply chains at once, significantly reduce downtime with near-real-time manufacturing analytics, and scale quickly and meaningfully.
Check out the 5G manufacturing use cases.
The Internet of Things (IoT) can be defined as physical items embedded with sensors and actuators that communicate with computing systems via wired or wireless networks.
This means that physical objects can be observed, even managed, with virtual technology.
This makes the IoT foundational in the 4th Industrial Revolution. It’s the technology that enables organizations to gain faster, more accurate, deeper knowledge of their products than ever before so they can build an increasingly safe and efficient workplace.
Industry 4.0 is leveraging the IoT alongside artificial intelligence, smart analytics, machine learning, virtual and augmented reality, and 5G to securely take all the data and insights produced by the IoT to make informed decisions and meaningful changes to their processes and products that can help reduce cost, improve quality and innovate strategically.
Smart factories provide major benefits for manufacturers starting in research and development stages and extending all the way to products and processes seen on the factory floor.
Smart factories that use Industry 4.0 technology powered by 5G can realize benefits such as:
- Supply chain agility
- Improved asset efficiency
- Reduced costs
- Improved safety and sustainability
Read more about the benefits and data surrounding smart factories.
Although many smart factories currently use a combination of 5G and Wi-Fi, the security and connectivity that 5G provides factories are seen as more advanced than Wi-Fi.
When smart factories choose 5G over Wi-Fi, they can get:
- Encrypted traffic as it rides through the network
- Seamless connectivity to transfer traffic between networks and keep sessions intact (a big challenge with using mobile technology)
- No urgent upgrade requirements when switching to a 5G network
There are a lot of ways artificial intelligence and machine learning can apply to manufacturing.
But one of the most prevalent and consistent use cases we see is using AI and ML to decrease the chance of manual errors involved in building and delivering products at scale.
Manufacturers should see more efficiencies in service and processes without interruptions and downtime.
The customer experience should also improve because you’re able to proactively put out fires at lower costs.
It’s a win-win for manufacturers and customers.
Digital twin technology helps transform manufacturers by linking the physical and digital worlds to provide a deeper understanding of products and processes and allow for predictive planning during what-if scenarios.
Digital twin technology has already helped leaders make real-time, urgent decisions related to natural disaster management and critical infrastructure and cybercrime impact modeling.
For manufacturers, digital twin technology means they can anticipate and avoid costly threats to security, damage to equipment and even injuries to workers.
Read more about how digital twin technology is supercharging decision-making in manufacturing and beyond.
1 “Connecting Manufacturers with the Future: How 5G is Transforming the Manufacturing Landscape,” Manufacturing Institute, 2021. https://www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Manufacturing-Institute-5G-study.pdf
2 Most reliable 5G network based on more first place rankings in RootMetrics® 5G data reliability assessments of 125 metro markets conducted in 1H 2023. Tested with best commercially available smartphones on three national mobile networks across all available network types. Your experiences may vary. RootMetrics rankings are not an endorsement of Verizon.
3 “Digital twins for supercharged decision making.” Verizon. 2022. https://www.verizon.com/business/resources/whitepapers/2022/digital-twins-for-supercharged-decision-making.pdf