Industry 4.0: What’s in A Name?

Internet of Things. Industrial Internet of Things. Industry 4.0. And in China, there’s Manufacturing 2025.

If your head’s spinning with all of the jargon rotating around the tech industry, you’re not alone. It’s a lot.

The difference between these entities (if any) seems to invite shared confusion across the board. In fact, a single Google search will reveal in the same breath that not only are these things entirely different…they’re also exactly the same.

Like we said, it’s a lot, and it’s definitely a little confusing. Which is why, over the course of the next several articles, we’re going to work to clear up some of the confusion surrounding these terms, particularly Industry 4.0 and IIoT.

Though Industrial 4.0 and IIoT are similar terms and are often used interchangeably, they are incredibly different in origin and purpose.

For one, Industry 4.0 is a term created by the German government to describe the fourth industrial revolution (hence the 4 in 4.0. By the way, this is happening now!) With a focus on the manufacturing industry, the goal of the Industry 4.0 initiative is to maintain Germany’s global competitiveness in manufacturing, especially as technology continues to evolve.

So what exactly is this “initiative”? It all comes down to connectivity. With its focus on manufacturing. Industry 4.0 is all about sustainability and connectivity. You see, manufacturing as we know it has changed and is continuing to change. Everything is powered by the Internet and web apps, and simply by the way they work, these manufacturing machines are collecting data and information.

And with Industry 4.0, this information is transmitted digitally to provide information on how machines and parts are used, when they need to be changed or repaired, etc. By taking data from the physical world and moving it to the physical realm, Industry 4.0 allows the manufacturing industry to better understand how things function.

Although Industry 4.0 is a German concept, it means something for the U.S. manufacturing industry. Manufacturing has always played a major role in the U.S., and it might surprise people to know just how advanced, organized and process-centric this industry is. The manufacturing is far more high-tech than most people think. Because of the systems and processes used, we mentioned before that a good bit of data is collected. With Industry 4.0, this data is shared, analyzed and applied, resulting in increased production, improved processes, and saved time and money!

So where does the Industrial Internet of Things fit into all of this?

One way you could look at it is that IIoT is the United States version of Industry 4.0, and though this is a common perception, it’s not entirely true. IIoT is like IoT,…but with an industrial twist—go figure, right?

While Industry 4.0 is laser-focused on the manufacturing industry, IIoT is more business-oriented (think: techies in industries, academia and government). With so many everyday objects already connected through IoT, IIoT aims to accelerate the adoption of Internet-devices in all industries.

But that’s a topic for another day. Stay tuned for more articles featuring everything you ever wanted to know about Industry 4.0. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for more updates like this.

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