The term Industry 4.0 was first used in Germany in 2012. It refers to industrial manufacturing and the fourth industrial revolution. The aim of this fourth industrial revolution is to integrate industrial production with modern information and communication technology. This uses intelligent and digitally networked systems to enable largely self-organised production.
In Industry 4.0, people, machinery, plants, logistics and products communicate and cooperate directly with one another. This aims to include all phases of the product lifecycle, from the idea through to development, manufacturing, use and maintenance as well as recycling. This is precisely where the difference lies to the third industrial revolution. While this revolution involved the automation of production, Industry 4.0 is no longer focussed on optimising a single production step, but rather an entire value chain.