Copyright – Les Echos / Worldcrunch – Pamela Kanter
The 4.0 Industry, also known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), is more than just a fad. Within the next 15 years, this sector could contribute up to $10.6 trillion to the economy. In Canada, no one thinks about IIoT as a future thing: They speak about it in the present. One province in particular, Ontario, has already taken the lead in this sector.
The 4.0 Industry is a result of numerous innovations, from the mass collection of information on cloud servers to the level of analysis possible with Big Data. The digitalization of the industry results in a flow of information between man and machine, with material and informational systems capable of communicating with each other. These new industrial production systems are able to adapt to their environment, control their own moving parts — and even schedule their own updates. At the heart of this movement is robotics, a sector in which Ontario has invested heavily in recent years.
Intelligent robots for safer lines of production
Since 2010, innovations have allowed robots to “see” their environment and improve their precision, efficiency and speed, thus reducing the time-to-market delay.
Collaborative robots, capable of more than autonomy, can be programmed to be multitaskers. Combining artificial intelligence with sophisticated vision systems, the robots can gather information about their environment and safely work beside humans.
The autonomous machines are able to give human workers “a third hand” and to know when to stop contact with a person or object. Robotics will make the world a safer place for its inhabitants.
A culture of innovation and an integrated ecosystem
The level of functionality and sophistication required for a 4.0 industry takes time to implement. Ontario is in the process of ensuring this development by bringing together unlikely partners. Start-up communities, government agencies, IT services, and research and development laboratories are all working together to make the 4.0 industry an integral part of the Canadian economy.
Ontario also has its own unique advantage: Countless suppliers and small businesses in the province rely on the automotive sector, which has proven to be a natural platform for robotic innovation. The future of the industry in the province also lies in sectors such as life sciences, health, food and retail.
Partnering with the university of Waterloo, Ontario has launched Robohub, the first research center on terrestrial robotics, aviation, and magnetic levitation. This center has been designed as a place of international collaboration between robot experts from North America, the European Union, Asia and Australia.
The research center, the only one of its kind worldwide, will open multidisciplinary research paths and explore the potential of robotic technologies, placing Ontario and Canada at the forefront of the industry’s future.
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