Smart Engineering – The Impact of Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 offers companies considerable opportunities but also presents new challenges. Without smart connected products, there can be no digital factories and also no digital transformation of business process and business models. The development of smart connected products requires the intelligent linking of engineering processes across different companies and across different domains. That is what we mean by “Smart Engineering”. A prerequisite for Smart Engineering is the overhaul of existing PLM architectures and end-to-end digitalization of the entire product lifecycle.

The Challenges Posed By the Impact of Industry 4.0 and Smart Engineering

In a wider sense, Industry 4.0 means the inter-meshing of the value chains in development, production, sales, and service using state-of-the-art information and communication technologies. The force driving this development is the increasingly rapid digitization of business and society.  It will fundamentally change the way we develop, manufacture, and work in the future: First came steam engines, assembly lines, electronics, and IT, now it is smart production, smart engineering, and smart services that are driving the fourth industrial revolution.

What are the key basic technologies involved and what impact will they have on future business processes and business models?

The technical foundation is provided by new, inexpensive and powerful technologies in the fields of sensor technology, embedded systems, artificial intelligence, networking and 3D printing, among others, combined with the huge increase in available computing power (see Figure 1).

These technologies make smart, connected systems with largely self-organized production possible: humans, machines, systems, logistics and products communicate and collaborate directly with one another in the age of Industry 4.0. Development processes, production processes, logistics processes and service processes in companies and between different companies will be intermeshed, making end-to-end processes even more efficient and flexible.

This will give rise to integrated, interlinked value chains that include all the phases of the product lifecycle – from the initial idea for a product to its development, manufacture, use and maintenance through to recycling. On the one hand, this will make it easier for customers to contribute their own wishes and, on the other, for companies to be able to manufacture products that are tailored to the customers‘ individual requirements. Customized manufacturing and preventative maintenance of products can become the new
standard.

These options will give rise to new business models. At the same time, the speed of this transformation and the resulting competitive pressures for established companies will increase further.

Industry 4.0 - PROSTEP

Figure 1