Top Engineering Trends That Will Shape IR 4.0

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The combination of digital processes such as the Internet of Things, automation, robotics, and additive manufacturing, known as Industry 4.0, has a disruptive impact on electrical and mechanical engineering design.

Engineers in different fields must redesign processes and operations to accommodate these new advancements. Moreover, Industry 4.0 also influences how products are designed for increasingly smart manufacturing facilities.

As Business 4.0 takes root, forward-thinking developers will adopt these digital tools and innovations. This will enable them to produce higher-quality products more efficiently and respond more quickly to shifting consumer demands, thereby increasing customer loyalty and market share.

Here are the top engineering trends that will define IR 4.0.


1. Factory Automation

There are numerous reasons why businesses are embracing Factory Automation technologies. This includes increasing the efficiency of production lines, making better use of resources, and increasing productivity.

Maintaining competitiveness in rapidly changing marketplaces is another motivator for increasing businesses to adopt Factory Automation solutions.

There are difficulties, not the least, of integrating legacy systems and platforms with new equipment and technologies. These challenges, however, are not insurmountable, and Factory Automation will be a feature of manufacturing for many years to come, not just in 2021.


2. Mixed, Virtual, and Augmented Reality

Mixed, virtual, and augmented reality can be used in a variety of ways in manufacturing facilities. This includes product design, development of production lines, driving OEE improvements, technical and engineering support, training, team collaboration, inventory management, and other responsibilities.

These technologies enable businesses to be more effective while also becoming more efficient. One area of use will be to use augmented and virtual reality to develop a new assembly line or product in the virtual universe, perfecting it before real-world prototyping or manufacturing starts.


Engineer working on the field near a Telecomunications tower


3. Networking and Connectivity

Network and connectivity are two of the essential factors in enabling Industry 4.0. A variety of technological advancements, including edge-to-cloud, gigabit ethernet time-sensitive networks, low-power wide-area network (LPWAN), nudge factories to implement IIoT transform into Industry 4.0 facilities.

Other technological advancements include 5G, machine-to-machine communication (M2M), real-time deterministic ethernet, time-sensitive networking (TSN), ubiquitous radio access, unified IoT framework, and zero-touch networks.

These developments are continually improving machine-machine and human-machine connectivity, as well as data transfer. As a result, advances in this field increase speed, security, and productivity while also lowering network access costs.


4. Advanced Robotics

Robotics advancements make industry 4.0 processes faster, more efficient, and safer. Autonomous robots, collaborative robots (cobots), collaborative autonomous mobile robots, humanoid, mobile robots, cloud robotics, APIs, pick and place robots, and robot swarms are among the most prominent robotic technologies influencing manufacturing.

The use of robots improves precision and agility while also increasing the capability of rapidly developing customizable robots. Robots also allow the human workforce to focus on non-repetitive or high-value tasks.


Production line of plastic industry


5. Quantum Computing

Quantum computing makes use of the peculiar phenomena observed when operating at the subatomic level, such as quantum entanglement, quantum tunnelling, and the ability of quantum particles to exist in more than one state at the same time.

Quantum computing will completely reshape what a computer is and could provide computing power millions or trillions of times greater than today’s supercomputers.

While traditional binary computation would likely suffice for several computer tasks soon, incomprehensibly fast quantum computing is anticipated to provide a broad range of artificial intelligence applications and decoding complex structures such as genomic knowledge.


6. Edge, Fog, and Cloud Computing

The vast amount of data generated by the industrial internet of things (IIoT) fuels the implementation of edge, fog, and cloud computing technologies in Industry 4.0.

This industry 4.0 trend is being shaped by custom hardware and software solutions such as connected clouds, distributed clouds, distributed compute and storage, hybrid computing, low code development platforms, microservices, mobile computing, and multi-access edge computing.


The Bottom Line

Smart engineers will have more opportunities. More technology and tools, such as MATLAB, will enable engineers and scientists (not just data scientists) to work with AI and other technologies to promote Industry 4.0. To best address the trends outlined above, engineers will be required to build models, deal with large data sets, and use the appropriate development tools.

Companies will be on the lookout for skilled engineers with different types of engineering degrees, including a diploma in electronic and electrical engineering, to prepare for a future in which Industry 4.0 is only the beginning of factory evolution.