A woman on a laptop with a digital cityscape in the background representing a digitised future.
Go to previous page Industry 4.0What is Industry 4.0?

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 fundamentally changes how we perceive a business’s operations.

Industry 4.0 fundamentally changes the way in which businesses create and capture value. This shift is enabled by a set of technologies including autonomous robots, simulation technology, system integration, the Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity, cloud computing, additive manufacturing, augmented reality and big data.

Industry 4.0 technologies have been around individually for a while, more recently, they have begun to mutually influence and impinge on each other, enabled by the Internet and a significant reduction in cost. This allows businesses to take advantage of the technology to significantly shift their business models.

For example, the Rolls Royce business model has changed with Industry 4.0 technologies from selling an object of aircraft engines, to selling that object’s function, that being flight hours. To benefit from this significant shift, companies need to engage in business model innovation.

At a basic level, Industry 4.0 technologies add value by enabling better visibility into manufacturing lines, supply chains and resource usage. This increased visibility enables companies to increase productivity and to compete on values such as improved service.

Steam-powered mechanisation was introduced in the 18th century, followed by electricity and mass production in the 19th. By the 20th century, the digital age introduced computers and automation, evolving to the onset of physical, digital and virtual technologies in the current 4.0 era.

Industry 4.0 in Australia

Most Australian companies have no digital strategy and are in danger of missing out on the opportunities arising from Industry 4.0. However, they are beginning to understand the potential impact on their business and are grappling with the question of how to incorporate Industry 4.0 and digitalisation into their operations.

The digitalisation of the Australian industry is pressing in the global context. PriceWaterhouseCoopers Germany predicts that Germany will have digitalised 80 per cent of its value chains by 2020, leading to an 18 per cent productivity increase in manufacturing*. Clearly, Australian companies will have to up the pace in order to remain internationally competitive.

Industry 4.0, work and education

Basic literacy and numeracy will remain a foundation of all work, but the digitalised future of work will change the mix of other skills required. For example, automation is expected to remove repetitive and dangerous manual handling work, therefore freeing up the human to engage in more creative and value-adding tasks.

Complex cognitive skills such as programming and creative problem-solving will be in greater demand. ‘Soft’ social and intercultural skills, including collaboration, communication, consultation, and systemic and creative thinking, will also be increasingly vital, while basic physical, manual and cognitive skills are expected to decline.

Education will need to be tailored to support lifelong learning and vocational training, combining both solid technical skills and the soft skills of collaboration, creative thinking and communication.

Swinburne is placed to capitalise on this mix of responsive education, to deliver technological, social and creative skills.

*Source: "Industry 4.0 - Opportunities and Challenges of the Industrial Internet, a survey of five core industry sectors," PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 2014

Contact us

There are many ways to engage with us across our Industry 4.0 capabilities. Please contact Nico Adams, Director, Factory of the Future to start a conversation.

Call +61 3 9214 5011