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A New World Order with Industry 4.0

March 5, 2017 • Commentary

From the Editors

The Internet of things has invaded individual space and now live in our pockets in the shape of that little computer gadget we call the mobile phone. The gadgets in our personal space can now talk with each other without any human interface. Our TV, music digitised is streamed through cloud via our mobile to all manner of devices in our homes. Our lights, heating etc., are controlled by our little friendly robots, our phones. Our health, our sleep, our exercise routine, indeed our days are monitored through a collection of data on the apps living inside our own personal computer, our phones and our smart watches.

The Internet of things has now marched into our industries, and the digitisation of the manufacturing process, construction industry, utility firms, logistics operations, banking operations, health services are on the move. Initiatives such as the EU 7th Framework, Industrie 4.0, the German initiative and many more are taking industry and manufacturing to a new world order known as Industry 4.0 also known as the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The essence of Industry 4.0 is the Smart Factory – an intelligent factory operated by cyber-physical systems, smart industrial robots and sensors gathering, sending and deciphering information in the cloud and connected to its environment with the aid of the internet of all things. Karl-Heinz Streibich in our cover article, “Who needs Silicon Valley, Made in Digital Germany is Europe’s Big Hope”, discusses the huge opportunity and potential that Industry 4.0 can bring to the German manufacturing sector.

However in this fully digitised, networked and interconnected world, systems become more vulnerable to cyber threats and attacks. Where a part of a system is vulnerable and attacked, there may be a reverberating effect across an entire production or service line.

There have been efforts both at the state level and in the private sector to develop security protocols and software to counter cyber threats. Martin Schallbruch in his article, The EU Now Regulates Internet Services, explores the 2016 EU Security of Network Directive and comments on the adequacy of a regulatory regime in a world of fast moving digitisation.

Security risks to data, intellectual property by cyber-espionage, cyber-terrorism between state actors and non-state actors are real and present. There is a need therefore to build security layers to counter the vulnerability of the system.

Smart factory, therefore calls for smart thinking and smart security responses if our new industrial revolution is to bring in rewards not regrets.

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