In conjunction with customer and supplier systems, the utilization and efficiency of smart products and smart factories can be further improved. This leads to an increase in overall competitiveness. The "smart factory" will be an integral part of tomorrow's intelligent infrastructure through its interfaces to other digitized systems such as smart mobility, the smart grid and smart logistics.
The "fourth industrial revolution" is mainly used to describe two developments: On the one hand, it refers to the diagonal, real-time and intelligent networking of machines, people and products. On the other hand, it describes the ability of decentralized self-control of machines and objects, which can exchange information with each other, react to each other and make intelligent, because autonomous and goal-oriented, decisions. The digital representation of real-time performance data enables early detection of deviations by the workforce, which can be quickly found and eliminated with the help of digital assistants. In summary, Industry 4.0 is the linking of intelligent products (smart products) with an intelligent factory and production (smart factory).
The "smart products" not only have information regarding their own manufacturing process, but can also collect and communicate data from the entire manufacturing and usage phase ("when was I manufactured, how do I need to be processed, where do I need to be delivered, etc."). These capabilities are designed to make production more flexible overall and help increase production and delivery readiness. Manufacturing becomes more efficient and productive, making production runs of smaller quantities and even one-offs profitable. Cyber-physical systems connect the smart products with the manufacturing machines, the social machines, to form the Smart Factory.
A "smart factory" is defined as a single company or a group of companies that is enabled by information and communication technology to develop products, improve the production system or logistics in order to respond to different production requirements. In the smart factory, not only will people communicate with the manufacturing machines, but they will also communicate with each other, with and through the smart products. It will be able to independently compensate for failures or bottlenecks, master higher complexity and expand production effectiveness.