industrie 4.0 is real and it’s already here

in rethinking robotics by Chris Harbert

Collaborative robot Sawyer at Hannover Messe 2016 in Germany.

I recently attended the Hannover Messe 2016 exhibition in Germany.  Amidst the vast number of warehouse-sized halls filled with demonstrations of everything from renewable energy mobile systems to the latest in wearable technology was a common theme – Industrie 4.0.  This phrase was visible from nearly every standing point throughout the 40+ acre campus, with companies large and small eagerly highlighting their readiness and compatibility with this new era in manufacturing.

The concept behind Industrie 4.0 is not unique to Germany; in fact it takes on a variety of names, depending on region and dialect.  Terms such as “Digital Factory”, “Internet of Things”, “4th Industrial Revolution”, and others all seeking to describe a vision for the future of work – one where producers of all shapes and sizes can not only augment knowledge about their manufacturing processes, but also, perhaps for the first time, make use of the ever-increasing array of information to improve quality, efficiency, and ultimately the customer experience.

What was most striking however at the Messe in Hannover was the commonality with which the topic seemed to be treated by the exhibition’s attendees.  While clearly a “buzzword”, Industrie 4.0 was referenced as something quite accepted, as if, like rising global population or the latest smartphone model, everyone simply knew this had been on the horizon for some time, and are now evaluating the best ways to implement for their own operations.

This unique experience has left me with one key takeaway, which is this: Industrie 4.0 is here, today, and if you’re not looking at ways to leverage the latest innovations, you might just get left behind.  I encourage you to seek out how this new wave of knowledge solutions, spanning both hardware and software, can help you maintain your competitive edge in our global manufacturing world.


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About the Author

Chris Harbert

Chris Harbert is the Director of Sales for Manufacturing Solutions at Rethink Robotics. He is responsible for all Direct and Channel sales and business development activities in the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia, driving awareness and adoption of Rethink's smart, collaborative robots - Baxter and Sawyer. Chris also manages B2B relationships with select, strategic Fortune 500 manufacturers on a global scale. Prior to Rethink Robotics, Chris spent over 10 years in the Biotech industry, in various sales, marketing, and technical management roles. He earned multiple Bachelor's degrees from Tufts University, and a Master's in Business Administration from Bentley University.

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