Mitigate Industry 4.0 technology challenges with full-stack observability

March 22 2022
4 min read

Manufacturers accelerating Industry 4.0 are facing challenges associated with complex cloud-based systems and highly interconnected things. Full-stack observability provides the insights needed to ease transitions and deliver organizational agility required for growth.

Industry 4.0 is more than just another name for the digital transformation of manufacturing. It’s the fourth industrial revolution; a continuation of innovation beginning with harnessing steam and waterpower to mechanize industry in the 1700s; electricity that propelled mass production in the 1800s and the introduction of electronics and technology to enable partially automated manufacturing processes in the 1970s — all of which are precursors to the smart factories seen on today’s horizon.

Several decades into this fourth industrial revolution, World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab describes Industry 4.0 as the “fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” His insights are on point, including that it’s evolving exponentially, rather than linearly and disrupting companies globally — as they “herald the transformations of entire systems, production, management, and governance.” All of which is captured by analysts’ predictions of a 20.6% growth rate (more than $1 billion increase) in the Industry 4.0 market by 2026.

Automakers are leading Industry 4.0 adoption with healthcare not far behind as associated technologies evolve to include interconnected, shared digital platforms that support and accelerate all aspects of industrial processing. These include internet-connected automobiles, compliance monitoring, product design and innovation, time-to-market, waste reduction, pre-production testing and modifications, distribution — and technologies like full-stack observability that drive organizational resilience required to achieve strategic sustainable economic growth. To say that shifting from partial to fully automated smart factories is highly complex would be an understatement.

Why full-stack observability is a critical tool

In 2021, AppDynamics published an in-depth look at the rise of full-stack observability, covering how it enables resilience and mitigates security risks, downtime issues and user experience glitches. The article provides a statistics-backed look at what’s impacting the acceleration of monitoring technologies and underscores the value of full visibility in highly connected and complex systems such as those found in Industry 4.0 initiatives. Full-stack observability offers an opportunity for industrial organizations to:

  • Cut downtime-related costs, increase revenue and optimize labor and other resources.
  • Contextualize every data point to facilitate better outcome-based business decisions.
  • Monitor IT infrastructure, network, security and technologies — even when the company doesn’t control it.

Cloud — the big driver in Industry 4.0 transformations

Industry 4.0 ecosystems are made up of connected, intelligent networks of machines and processes. It basically assumes that every application in a manufacturing IT ecosystem will support connectivity across data, systems and people. Most technologists working in these environments will agree that fully connected smart factories require the cloud to some degree. Maybe not for every single aspect of industrial digital transformations — but cloud is widely accepted as a critical foundational infrastructure component needed to scale Industry 4.0 strategies. And for organizations in the midst of or thinking about cloud migrations or expansions, full-stack observability reduces friction by:

  • Identifying baseline application workloads and throughputs in order to provide the right-size cloud infrastructure and streamline workloads by evaluating performance in real-time.
  • Collecting resource utilization data on end-user experience and throughputs to align with cloud provider infrastructure requirements.
  • Delivering insights across the application delivery chain, including parts you don’t own, such as third-party integrations, in order to optimize usage and security.

System glitches can devastate your bottom line

Industry 4.0 workers depend on applications to do their jobs. From back-office software and computer-assisted design and engineering solutions to autonomous robots, when a system fails employees lose productivity which comes at a huge cost to manufacturers. A cost that can cause a trickle-down effect across the supply chain and impact consumers.

Issues may originate in-house or in the network, APIs, SaaS and other third-party services outside a manufacturer’s control. No matter the origin, a glitch can grow exponentially as teams scramble to identify and mitigate the root cause. With full-stack observability, industrial organizations can pinpoint roadblocks across owned and leased IT assets and subscription services from one central location to drive collaboration and accelerate mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR) — often before worker productivity is impacted. Full-stack observability enables a proactive vs. reactive solution to finding and mitigating glitches.

Observing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

A major component of Industry 4.0 lies in the ability to connect “things” such as robotics and other factory machinery and smart-metered devices. These IIoT instances send information and data to the cloud across networks that enables manufacturers to monitor, configure and maintain usability, remotely. Performance monitoring and management tools for IIoT data centers, mobile devices (such as those used in tracking inventory and supplies), and devices that reside on the network’s edge, are critical to smart factory operations. In fact, a recent MDPI study predicts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for industrial electronics of 20% through 2030 with the highest number of devices deployed over the next decade. In addition, for these makers of connected “things” within consumer products such as medical devices, full-stack observability enables real-time monitoring and protection against security and user experience challenges, across the lifetime of the device.

The course is charted for complete industrial automation

Like most transformations, Industry 4.0 is a journey that doesn’t necessarily require rapid, disruptive changes or immediate overhauls of existing systems. Developing full-stack observability to foster agility and reduce downtime early can enable manufacturing ecosystems to anticipate challenges and scale more easily as the need arises.

When it comes to IT/OT integration, security and supporting Industry 4.0 strategies, AppDynamics by Cisco provides best-in-class solutions — including all the benefits of full-stack observability. Go here to learn more.