Production monitoring system on Industry 4.0

What is Industry 4.0 ? A simple explanation

What Industry 4.0 is, what it is NOT

Industry 4.0 is a system that comprises these components:
1. Machines
2. Sensors
3. Data transfer over internet (IOT)
4. Software that analyzes the data and takes decisions – data analytics

Production monitoring system on Industry 4.0

The Industry 4.0 components in the picture combine to do this:
1. There’s a machine
2. There is an IOT sensor on the machine that collects data from it
3. The sensor sends the data to the internet
4. Cloud software collects the data and analyzes it
5. Data is displayed to people, sent to other software, or sent to machines.

Just the same old ingredients, new recipe

To understand what is Industry 4.0, just look at its components – machines, sensors, the internet, IOT, cloud software. All these are familiar to us. Machines have been around for centuries. Sensors have been used on machines for decades – for fluid pressure, temperature, speeds, etc. We’ve been using the internet for a couple of decades now, and IOT for some years. Software has been around for a few decades. None of them is new or revolutionary technology.

What IS new and revolutionary is all these working together, and the machine monitoring done directly by computers. Here’s a table that shows the difference between how the individual components worked traditionally, and how they work in an Industry 4.0 system.

There are a huge variety of Industry 4.0 applications. Machines can be anything at all – a manually operated machine, PLC based machine, CNC, robot . Sensors can measure cycle start/end, machine on/off, pressure, temperature, vibrations or any other parameter. The software can shut down the machine if there’s a tool breakage; can monitor vibrations for predictive maintenance, inform people that a particular part needs to be changed; it can track machine run hours for preventive maintenance; it can make scheduling or purchasing decisions based on actual production, or do a bunch of other things.

Industry 4.0 – what it is NOT

As important as understanding what is Industry 4.0, is understanding what it is NOT.

There is nothing like an I4.0 standard. The moment you connect your machine to your computers and can see what it is up to at any time, the result is Industry 4.0.

There is nothing like ‘Industry 4.0 compliant’.
Since there is no standard, there is nothing to comply with.

Industry 4.0 does not have to have a high level of automation.
The machine can even be manually operated.

It does not have to have Robots.

You need not be doing any Additive Manufacturing

You need not have Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR).

What you don’t have to bother about

A lot of terms are used in any discussion of what is Industry 4.0. These are the software’s internals, and the software vendor’s problem, not yours as a user. Just like the diameter and tolerance of balls in a ball bearing are the bearing manufacturer’s problem, and you need not know about these.
Cyber physical system. Connect your machine to computers.
Big data. Handling large amounts of data. Software vendor’s problem.
Analytics. Analyzing data and reporting it in a convenient form.
Artificial Intelligence (AI). Logic in the software to make decisions.
Machine Learning (ML). Logic in the software to make decisions.

Only Industry 4.0 vendors or academics have to bother about these terms. For most users, these will only confuse our understanding of what is Industry 4.0.

Production monitoring system - jargon
Industry 4.0 terms and buzzwords

Industry 4.0 advantages have nothing to do with the size of the company, and implementation can done with very low investment. Even MSMEs can implement it. Leanworx Cloud machine monitoring system gets you Industry 4.0-ready rapidly and economically. It costs as much as a cup of coffee per day, and is as energizing for your shop floor as a cup of coffee, improving profitability dramatically.  


Lots of teeth and fangs, but nobody got bitten

I was at work in a CNC machine shop recently, and was hanging around outside taking a small breather. Some distance away I saw this cobra also hanging around, minding its own business. A group of dogs chanced upon the cobra and started harassing it. The dogs were cleverly keeping a safe distance, and the cobra was trying to trying to scare them off by raising its hood. This went on for quite some time. Thankfully for all parties concerned (including me, who didn’t want to see any of them getting hurt), the snake managed to get away and none of the dogs got bitten.


The Portugese encountered the snake in India (presumably in Goa) in the 16th Century, and called it the ‘cobra de capello’, which means Snake with a hood. The word then got borrowed into English later. Cobra, the Portugese word for Snake, is from the Latin word Colubra, which means snake.

I was reading somewhere that a large snake can live on 50 calories a day, was intrigued, did some more reading, and this is what I learnt: Snakes are cold blooded animals, meaning that their body temperature changes to that of the surroundings.
Warm blooded animals like humans and other mammals keep their temperature constant, irrespective of the outside temperature. We mammals have automatic mechanisms like sweating to cool down or shivering to warm up, and spend a lot of energy on maintaining our body temperature. This is why cold blooded animals like snakes, lizards and crocodiles require far fewer calories per day than warm blooded animals. Snakes need about 1/3 the calories that a human requires, for the same body weight. That’s why they’ll eat a heavy meal and then not eat for days together.


Speaking of calories, a blue whale (which weighs 180 tons – see the picture for size comparison) can ingest half a million calories of food in a single mouthful. When the foodie monster in me wakes up (which it does whenever it sees good food), I think that’s how much I eat in a single mouthful. A conclusion based on the fact that I have to loosen my belt by a couple of notches after such a meal

Free Webinar : Is Industry 4.0 Worth It for Machine Shops? 29 June 2024, 2pm to 3pm, Saturday.

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