Industry 4.0 and Smart Factory

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 implies the utilization of different technology trends, mainly digital, to offer solutions to future challenges such as higher productivity and efficiency, better and faster decision making, mass personalization of new products, higher transparency and lower cost.

The concept of Industry 4.0 appeared for the first time in an article published in November 2011 by the German Government that resulted from an initiative regarding high-tech strategy for 2020.


“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is still in its nascent state. But with the swift pace of change and disruption to business and society, the time to join in is now”. Gary Coleman, Global Industry and Senior Client Advisor, Deloitte Consulting

Main Benefits

Increase productivity

The increasing productivity is the core of every industrial revolution.

During the  1st industrial revolution, the industrial output climbed from 22% between 1830 and 1860 to 42% between 1860 and 1880, mainly due to cheap steel.

During the 2nd industrial revolution, between 1880 and 1900, due to mass production, the world industrial output climbed to 67%.

The trend becomes more evident during the 3rd industrial revolution, also called the computer revolution, with the rising of automation.

In the same way, the 4th industrial revolution, mainly thanks to digital technologies, is promising to improve productivity in German Industry from 15 to 35% in the next years.


Max increase of Productivity expected in Germany due to Industry 4.0 (source: Ruessmann M. et al, BCG 2015)

Mass personalization

If we look at the evolution of production approach, it is possible to identify 4 different phases:

  • low volume customization: it involved the first rudimentary processes to make products from other materials such as wood, clay and metals;
  • low volume standardization: the main reason was the need of interchangeable parts due to the first industrial revolution;
  • high volume standardization: Henry Ford was the catalyst. With electricity and conveyors, mass production became reality; 
  • mass customization: the Toyota Production System made mass customization possible.

Industry 4.0 is promising to level up mass customization to mass personalization. Additive Manufacturing, for example, is the most promising technology in this direction.

Better quality, lower cost

Quality and Cost are key metrics to increase competitiveness in the market.

In simple words, Quality is achieved by reducing the process variability, which means improving process capabilities. Different tools and techniques have been developed in the past years. Industry 4.0 will integrate these techniques, therefore generating perfect synergies.

What about cost? Manufacturing Industries found benefits from Globalization cutting down labor costs moving facilities in low-wage countries. However, there is a more convenient way. The cost of new technologies is reducing year by year, making the use of autonomous robots or 3D printing more competitive than offshoring.


Max Production Cost reduction expected in Germany due to Industry 4.0 (Schroeder C, THE FRIEDRICH-EBERT-STIFTUNG, 2016)

Accialini Training & Consulting provides training and consulting to support the transition to the Smart Factory:


“an optimized manufacturing facility which can facilitate launching new products depending on market dynamics, is scalable enough to meet demand variation for existing products, is able to produce Finished Goods at least cost, has smart machines, sensors and robots which are seamlessly integrated with information system architecture to enable high level of automation in transaction processing and has real time analytics that helps in minimizing downtime and improving efficiency”. Padhi N, Setting up a Smart Factory (Industry 4.0) – A Practical Approach, Nov, 2018

The key technologies

Robots will eventually interact with one other and work safely side by side with humans and learn from them. These robots will cost less and have a greater range of capabilities than those used in manufacturing today.


Industrial robot cost decline (1995-2015) (source: Dyer J, 2018)

Augmented Reality-based systems support a variety of services, such as selecting parts in a warehouse and sending repair instructions over mobile devices. These systems are currently in their infancy, but in the future companies will make much broader use of augmented reality to provide workers with real-time information  to improve decision making and work procedures.


AR glasses shipped by 2022*


AR Users by 2020*

*Sources: NewGenApps,  Augmented IDC Research, Goldman Sachs

Companies have just begun to adopt additive manufacturing, which they use mostly to prototype and produce individual components. With Industry 4.0 additive methods will be widely used to produce small batches of customized products that offer constructions advantages, such as complex and lightweight design.


Time saving in Fixturing (source: Stratasys)


Cost saving in Fixturing (source: Stratasys)


3D Printing Market by 2021 (source: Barnatt, 2014)


Market value 2013 - 2021 (source: Barnatt, 2014)

Simulation will be used more extensively in plant operations to leverage real-time data and mirror the physical world in a virtual model, which can include machines,  products and humans. This will allow operators to test and optimize the machine settings for the next product in line in the virtual world before the physical changeover, thereby driving down machine setup time and increasing quality

With simulation models, we can explicitly visualize how an existing operation might perform under varied inputs and how a new or proposed operation might behave under same or different inputs, analyze the material flow and optimize plant lay-out. Today simulation can be used for decision support with supply chain management, workflow and throughput analysis, facility layout design, resource usage and allocation, resource management and process change” (Kokareva V.V. et al, 2015)

Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and connectivity which enables these things to connect, collect and exchange data.


Impact of IoT opportunity by 2025 (The Economist, 2016)

With Industry 4.0, companies, departments, functions and capabilities will become much more cohesive, as cross-company, universal data-integration networks evolve and enable truly automated value chains.

More production-related undertakings will require increased data sharing across sites and company boundaries. As a result, machine data and functionality will increasingly be deployed to the cloud, enabling more data-driven services for production systems.


cost over 3 years switching from Microsoft Office to Google App by Telegraph Media Group (source: Barnatt, 2010)

A big amount of data can be collected with digitalization of products and services. This amount of data can be analyzed to predict the market trends, to improve a manufacturing process, to assess supply chain performance. Artificial Intelligence: it is the science of making machines do things that would require intelligence of people to do that. One of the most important objectives of AI systems is to reproduce human decision making but more quickly.

Between the dawn of civilization and 2003, we only created five exabytes; now we’re creating that amount every two days. By 2020, that figure is predicted to sit at 53 zetabytes (53 trillion gigabytes) — an increase of 50 times.” — Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google.

With the increased connectivity and use of standard communications protocols that come to Industry 4.0, the need to protect critical industrial systems and manufacturing lines from cyber-security threats increases dramatically. As a result, secure, reliable communications as well as sophisticated identity and access management of  machines and users are essential.


estimated revenues of cyber attack in 2016 (source: World Economic Forum)

How can we help you?

The Training Program has been developed to cover following key topics: 

To understand the reasons that lead to Industry 4.0, it is fundamental to understand previous revolutions. The 1st industrial revolution (1760 – 1850) began in Great Britain, and many of the technological innovations were of British origin. The Second Industrial Revolution (1870 – 1914) was a period of rapid industrial development, primarily in Britain, Germany and the United States, but also in France, Italy and Japan. The 3rd industrial revolution began in the 1960s. It is usually called the computer or digital revolution because it was catalyzed by the development of semiconductors, mainframe computing (1960s), personal computing (1970s and ’80s) and the internet (1990s).

What about the 4th industrial revolution?

In this module, a summary of every industrial revolution will be provided, taking into account 4 different aspects:

  • The historical context;
  • Science & Technology;
  • Production Approach;
  • Socio-economic impact.

Unlike previous Industrial Revolutions, the 4th Industrial Revolution is not characterized by one or two inventions or technologies, but rather by a set of already known digital technologies that are rising in every area of our society.

This module aims to describe in detail some of the key technologies of Industry 4.0. Since the broad and extensive nature of the topic, it has been chosen to split the description of these technologies in 3 parts.

More specifically, part 1 focuses on the following technologies:

  • Advanced Manufacturing, which includes Autonomous Robots (AGVs and cobots), Human Machine Interface (HMI) and Artificial Intelligence
  • Augmented Reality
  • Virtual Reality

The practitioner will learn in detail the essence of each technology and how to apply them in a real Industrial environment. Indeed, for each technology, several examples are reported.

This module aims to describe in detail 3 of the key technologies of Industry 4.0. Since the broad and extensive nature of the topic, it has been chosen to split the description of these technologies in 3 parts.

More specifically, part 2 focuses on the following technologies:

  • Additive Manufacturing: after a quick overview of its history, all the additive technologies will be presented;
  • Simulation: the discussion will focus mainly on process applications, like Discrete Event Simulation;
  • Horizontal & Vertical IT systems integration: the section will focus on the benefits as well as the IT system portfolio commonly adopted by mid/large organizations.

The practitioner will learn in detail the essence of each technology and how to apply them in a real Industrial environment. Indeed, for each technology, several examples are reported.

Part 3 focuses on the following technologies:

  • Internet of Things, described as the the network of devices that contain electronics, software, actuators, and connectivity which allows these things to connect, interact and exchange data;
  • Cloud Computing is where software applications, data storage, processing power and even artificial intelligence are accessed over the Internet from any kind of computing device;
  • Cyber-security, the protection of digital devices and their communication channels to keep them stable, dependable and reasonably safe from danger or threat;
  • Big Data Analytics, which refers to method of predictive analyses that are used to extract value from a massive amount of data.

The practitioner will learn in detail the essence of each technologies and how to apply them in a real Industrial environment. Indeed, for each technology, several examples are reported.

The Smart Factory is an optimized and high-flexible manufacturing facility. The goal is to facilitate launching new products depending on market dynamics, is scalable enough to meet demand variation for existing products, is able to produce Finished Goods at least cost, has smart machines, sensors and robots which are seamlessly integrated with information system architecture to enable high level of automation in transaction processing and has real time analytics that helps in minimizing downtime and improving efficiency.

Despite the wide range of technologies exploited in a Smart Factory, its backbone is made of human skills.

It is not wrong to say that a Smart Factory is made by and for workers.

This module aims to present the practitioner the benefits and risks associated to the Smart Factory.

This module aims to present the practitioner a practical approach to implement a Smart Factory. The module is divided into 3 main parts:

  • The first part focuses on the implementation of the physical world, including infrastructures, reconfigurable production systems and factory layout;
  • The second part focuses on the implementation of the virtual world, including IT infrastructures and main tools like multi-physics simulation;
  • The third part focuses on the implementation of a Digital Twin, which is a digital copy of the real factory based on cyber-physical system.

The disruptive wave of the 4th Industrial Revolution will impact in our lives in proportions that are almost impossible to envisage. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize the potential impact that this Revolution will bring in order to face up to future global changes and challenges.

We are living in a fast-paced environment, where digital technologies are changing our approach not only to work, but also to life. Therefore, understanding implications and methods to face up new challenges is not an option anymore.

This module aims to provide the practitioner a broad understanding of impacts of the 4th industrial revolution on our lives. Indeed, Industry 4.0 will impact in every aspect of our everyday life:

  • Economic growth and productivity: will the impact be positive or negative?
  • Business: how our ways of making business?
  • Industry: how new technologies will modify factories?
  • Infrastructure: how our cities will be impacted?
  • Global security: will we be less or more safe?
  • Society: is it going to progress or not?

In previous modules, we presented the main reasons and key technologies that lead to a so called 4th industrial revolution. We also discussed and how we will benefit from their utilization. Moreover, the practitioner had also the opportunity to learn what a Smart Factory is and what main impacts on people are.

In this module, the practitioner learns what the main requirements are and what skills an organization needs to be developed to face up the transformation with the right tools.

Companies need to establish 6 digital pillars to support and benefit from the opportunities that come with Industry 4.0 technologies. In this course, the 6 pillars will be described in detail:

  • Develop a high-performance culture;
  • Build relevant Digital Capabilities;
  • Facilitate collaboration;
  • Manage data as valuable asset;
  • Enable agile IT infrastructure and architecture;
  • Ensure cyber-security.

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Virtual class

Face to face

The main goal of the Walk Through is to identify hidden opportunities and to define a Strategic Industry 4.0 Roadmap, where potential solutions to improve capacity, capabilities, performance and to reduce costs are described in detail.

Our approach is structured as follows:

The first step is to provide a preliminary overview on what Industry 4.0 means. It includes an explanation of the 9 key technologies, main benefits, impacts and main challenges to face with.      

It implies to visit your shop floor. Depending on the size, the walk through can take from half a day up to 3 days.   

During the walk through, Industry 4.0 opportunities will be identified. By experience, any workshop hides several opportunities where Industry 4.0 technologies can be used without massive investment.       

A final report will be prepared. It means that an Industry 4.0 Roadmap will be defined according to customer needs, new potential technologies to implement are identified and cost are estimated. Moreover, benefits and further recommendations will be described.     

As industrial competition increases, it becomes more apparent that improved levels of output, efficiency and quality can only be achieved by designing better production systems rather than by merely exercising greater control over existing ones. The design of a production system comprises a linked set of widely ranging activities and involves problems common to a variety of situations, regardless of the technology and process being used.

Whether you need to implement a new production cell or to improve an existing system, we provide you the right  support. Implementing a manufacturing cell implies several steps:

The first step implies the definition of the production system requirements like, but not limited to:

  • Space availability;
  • Product Variation;
  • Max throughput;
  • Budget availability;
  • Overall Equipment Effectiveness.

In this sense, using a proper method and right tools becomes essential to achieve the expected result.

A project plan can be done once the basic project requirements and boundaries are defined and well understood.  

The third step implies a preliminary analysis of the manufacturing and/or assembly sequence. This phase is critical, because it affects all the downstream steps.    

The fourth step is probably the most time consuming and implies a detail definition of the overall manufacturing and/or assembly process, including, but not limited to:

  • set up and process time;
  • type and numbers of machines, fixture, tools;
  • type and number of workers;
  • estimated moving time between different stations;
  • corrosion prevention solution;
  • lifting solutions.


The Discrete Event Simulation is a very powerful tool which is used to size and estimate key indicators. A DES models the operation of a system as a discrete sequence of events in time. Each event occurs at a particular instant in time and marks a change of state in the system. Between consecutive events, no change in the system is assumed to occur; thus, the simulation time can directly jump to the occurrence time of the next event, which is called next-event time progression. Typical indicators are:

  • max throughput
  • production cost
  • lead time
  • machine and workers utilization
  • productivity


To reduce the waste of time associated with unefficiencies within the line, it is recommended that all stations last pretty much the same amount of time. This step can be done by using a DES or, in a more simple (but less accurate) way by excel file.


“Lay-out identically involves the allocation of space and the arrangement of equipment in such a manner that overall operating costs are minimized” James Lundy


Process Simulation is a useful approach to analyze important factors like, but not limited to:

  • ergonomics
  • space utilization
  • collision
  • fixture size


The Virtual Build Event consists in a 1 or 2 days Workshop in which the team and stakeholders assess the final concept by exploiting Virtual Reality capability.


Are you seeking new technologies to boost your KPIs? We have a network of more than 100 companies offering 4.0 solutions. We are able to support you in the selection of the technology that best fits your requirements.  

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Nicola is a very experienced manufacturing engineer, especially on gears. He adopted ideas from the big, trending themes like Industry 4.0, big data and automation and turned them into pragmatic solutions.

Tim Sowa
Capability Acquisition Leader, Aerospace Transmission Technologies

Profound knowledge of mechanical manufacturing for the manufacture of gears and strong skills in the organization of work and in the continuous improvement of processes.

Ezio Dadone
Gears & Special processes Business Leader, Avio Aero - a GE Aviation Business