How Apple is already part of Industry 4.0

Apple has entered manufacturing infrastructure with its products seeing wide deployment across Industry 4.0.

Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Industry 4.0, SAP, IBM, Cisco, GE
Jiraroj Praditcharoenkul / Getty Images

Apple has entered manufacturing infrastructure with its products seeing wide deployment as industrial technology moves into what’s called Industry 4.0 – connected systems augmented by AR and mobile solutions.

Smart, connected machines

The introduction of the iPhone and the subsequent debut of other advanced mobile devices acted as a clarion call.

The ability to work remotely doesn’t just apply to humans, but also to machines. Smart, connected industrial infrastructure is the inevitable result. Analysts call this “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” hence, “Industry 4.0”.

What sort of real-world implications do these technologies have? Here’s some ideas:

  • Vending machines that check their own stock levels and order refills when required.
  • Industrial equipment with sensors capable of proactively identifying faults and requesting service before they actually fail.
  • Smart warehousing in which stock levels, location and order batching is highly automated and centrally controlled.
  • Smart farms, where soil and water conditions are remotely monitored, or drones and GPS trackers used to monitor and protect livestock.
  • Extensive deployment across retail.

Of course, when your business is digitized, security becomes a huge problem, and this is why so many industrial implementations choose to use secure mobile platforms to support their work.

No one wants to be the new Target, and see valuable customer data stolen through a security flaw in the air conditioning system.

Ignoring change isn’t an option. Gartner says that by 2022, approximately 70% of all software interactions in the enterprise will be handled by mobile devices.

And that’s why Apple is already part of industry 4.0.

iOS is in the infrastructure

Nowadays, in almost every deployment, you’ll find the applications used to interface with this increasingly smart industrial capacity are also available for iOS.

You also see machine learning applied to the data these smart machines collect, unlocking new productivity and helping enterprises identify new business opportunities they may hitherto have been unaware of.

That’s the theory, at least, though it seems inevitable that as industry becomes more automated, the new for human workers will shrink.

There are arguments that technological advance eventually creates new employment models, but these don’t always extend to those displaced by such change.

My belief is that access to free lifelong education and financial support for displaced workers is a logical response to protect national economies impacted by such change. Those who do not help their populations learn new skills will atrophy, but that’s another story.

Partnerships for Industry 4.0

Apple’s tech is in use within Industry 4.0 environments worldwide. For example, Apple and GE agreed to an Industry 4 partnership back in 2017. They work together to create “powerful industrial apps designed to bring predictive data and analytics from Predix, GE’s industrial IoT platform, to iPhone and iPad.”

That matters. Globally, GE customers include manufacturing companies, automotive firms, chemical, energy, food, water, oil, gas and paper manufacturing companies.

Apple’s partnership with IBM means iOS apps built using Mobile First for iOS are already in active use across numerous industries.

These include white- and blue-collar industries across the gamut: education, insurance, online services, industrial, retail, energy, chemical and many more sectors.

The Cisco partnership puts Apple into retail and healthcare, and the SAP deal means Apple’s solutions are in use across the enterprise – and never ignore the long-standing partnership with Microsoft, which means you’ll find solutions from both used together at firms such as Sonic Industries.

There are partnerships with Accenture, Deloitte, Salesforce.

Together, all these partnerships mean Apple’s solutions are on the table at every conversation around digital transformation in any enterprise – and this extends to industrial deployments, also.

Already in use

This is why you’ll find iPhones running proprietary enterprise apps in use at a dizzying array of companies: SKF, John Lewis, BDC, AXA, Rogers-O’Brien Contruction, Capital One, British Airways, LIDL, Ochsner Health Systems, Network Rail, P&G, Novartis and many, many more – if you have an interesting industrial deployment of iOS, please let me know.

Of course, once you get industrial adoption of these platforms, you also see a range of iOS apps for industrial use, for example:

And what makes this all the more astounding is that much of the evolution of Industry 4.0 can be traced right back to a product introduced in January 2007 by Apple’s Steve Jobs.

The iPhone finessed the expression of advanced technology in a mobile form factor and opened the floodgates to a range of concepts that inevitably sparked the new industrial evolution.

And put Apple into the infrastructure, not just the enterprise.

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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