Almost five years ago, a German government-sponsored project exploring the implications of new and emerging computer technologies for manufacturing published its final report. Industry 4.0 Working Group presented their paper at the Hannover Messe, where more than 220,000 representatives of the world’s engineering and manufacturing industry gather every year to see the latest innovations in production and automation technologies. The choice of location sent a clear message: From its beginnings in an area of speculative research, the term Industry 4.0 was ready for the mainstream.
If its aim was to get people talking, the Industry 4.0 project has been a significant success. The concept has spawned hundreds of papers and articles and encouraged equipment makers, software companies and consultancies to launch new offerings, or relabel old ones, with the “Industry 4.0” badge.