The role of Industry 4.0 in the economy

Europe is a world leader in many strategic sectors, such as automotive, aeronautics, engineering, space, chemical and pharmaceutical. The industry continues to represent four fifths of European exports and 80% of investment in R&D from the private sector comes from the manufacturing industry.

The Industrial Fabric is very characterized by the presence of SMEs, which must overcome the obstacles that limit their growth to be more competitive. The average SME is smaller in Europe than in the US. This has significant consequences: the smaller the company, the more difficult it is to invest in innovation, export and integrate into global value chains, which hinders its competitiveness.

The contribution of the manufacturing sector to the EU added value decreased from approximately 18% in 2000 to approximately 14% in 2009 to finally show a slight recovery in 2011, increasing to 16% 2.

The main objective is to reach 20% of GDP by 2020.


Almost one in four jobs in the private sector is in the industry and often requires a high qualification, in addition, each additional employment in the manufacturing sector generates between 0.5 and 2 jobs in other sectors.

The industrial model of the future

Regarding the transformation that is occurring to the Factory 4.0, one of the three major challenges seeks to increase the competitiveness of industries with more weight in the Galician economy, and sets as a means to achieve increased technological intensity, diversification, specialization and innovation of processes and products, and highlights the decisive role that facilitating technologies will have for this, especially ICTs and hybridization, that is, the search for synergies and shared knowledge among interrelated sectors.


Industry 4.0 main features


cyberphysical systems (carriers workpieces, assembly stations and products) allow humans and smart factories connect and communicate with each other.


a virtual copy of the Smart Factory is created by linking sensor data with virtual plant models and simulation models

Real-time capacity

the ability to collect and analyze data and provide the information derived immediately.


ability of cyber-physical systems and make their own decisions locally produced thanks to technologies like 3D printing.


flexible adaptation to changing requirements smart factories by a replacement or expansion of individual modules.

What technologies are associated with Industry 4.0 according to the Government of Germany?

The application of information and communications technology (ICTs) for digitizing the information and integrate systems at all stages of the creation and use of the product (including logistics and supply).

Cyberphysical systems that use ICT to monitor and control physical processes and systems. These may involve integrated sensors, intelligent robots that can be configured to suit the product in real time as it is being created, or additive manufacturing

Network communications including wireless and Internet technologies that serve for communication between devices (eg, 3D printing).

Simulation, modeling and virtualization in product and plant design, with suppliers and distributors. Compilation of large amounts of data and its analysis and exploitation. Increased support for ICT-based workers, including robots, augmented reality, or by analyzing Big Data and Cloud Computing.

for the industry

Simulation and process optimization-Generation of the digital twin
  • Development of simulation tools able to predict the behavior of the factory based on the information generated and processed under different scenarios to obtain useful statistics about the performance and use of resources (time of service, machines and personnel usage, etc) with the goal of production planning optimization, using discreet events simulators. 

The events simulator allows to test different settings for all the processes that interact in the production system, being capable of detecting possible optimizations in the resources assignments or in the times of service to the users.  

3D Virtual Reality

It allows to superimpose virtual information -plans, models, instructions- over a real environment. This technology has had a big growth in the last years, At an industrial level, some projects have researched the use of 3D virtual reality in tasks of visualization, maintenance, measurement and information over tasks execution in an industrial environment.

The use or virtual reality systems, focused in worker skills, will allow to improve flexibility, competitivity and agility in manufacturing. The idea is to provide new multimodal interfaces to the workers with workflows based in user's experience, in order to plan, program and operate the production flow in a safe way. 

In this context, IT mobile technologies will allow to the workers the remote control and supervision of manufacturing operations, improving productivity and compensating limitations related with age or inexperience of workers.

Simulation is a tool which is mostly used in the design stage of a system, as it is used in the industry. An interesting way to expand the use of simulation is the search of new fields of use in the industries where it is already in use. There's a big potential in areas such as: 

  •  Emulation to help to design control systems. 
  •  Programming.
  •  Prediction of future results.  
  •  Real-time control-
  •  Training. 
  • Modelling of human behavior and its interaction with an operations system. The aim of this should be to understand better how human interaction with an operations system affects to the performance of this system and search new ways of improvement for actions, behaviors and decisions of human actors. The request here is to quickly build and use simulations (as accurate as possible), possibly to help to take group decisions.