In the first blog of this series, we discussed the many changes in the print industry, and the development of Industry 4.0. To recap, click here. You will find detailed information about the digitization of manufacturing, and the transformation from Industry 1.0 to now.

Now that we have a better understanding of what Industry 4.0 is, let’s take a look at what it entails. The components that underpin Industry 4.0 have been agreed upon by many organizations and can be best summarized in 9 key points:

  1. System Integration

Many systems are highly automated within their own operation, but struggle to commu­nicate with other systems. Standards and open architecture support the easy transfer of information, both to the business and the customer and/or end user. This can involve defining common languages for data exchange such as JDF for job information, CxF for color information, and PDF for content.

  1. Big Data and Analytics

As systems become increasingly digitized and connected, there is a great deal of data that can be collected and analyzed. One of the challenges is the quantity of data. Too much data makes it difficult to identify the relevant information and trends that can lead to intelligent and automated decisions. This is where “big” data and analytics come in. Big data and analytics make it possible to identify the performance of an individual component and its operating restrictions in order to prevent future production issues and take preventative action.

  1. Simulation and Virtualization

The simulation and virtualization of systems allow for different scenarios to be assessed. Once systems are assessed, cost-effective solutions can be developed, tested, and implemented much faster, ultimately leading to reduced costs and time to market. An example of simulation would be color management and control, where in-line measurements can be used to minimize set up times and optimize subsequent press runs.

  1. Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT is a key functionality in Industry 4.0 driven solu­tions. The IoT combines physical devices via the network to collect data for the decision making process. This embedded computing enhances the value and functionality of the product being manufactured.

  1. The Cloud

The Cloud is being used for applications such as remote service, color management, and performance benchmarking, and its role in other business areas will continue to expand. With continuous advancements in technology, machine data and functionality will only continue to be shifted towards Cloud solutions. The Cloud allows for a much faster roll out of updates, performance models, and delivery options than stand-alone systems. The industry has seen a large shift in utilizing Cloud solutions, and this will continue to grow.

  1. Cybersecurity

As we move away from closed systems (with the increased connectivity from the IoT and Cloud), the security of information becomes paramount. Security and reliability enable the successful implementa­tion of a truly modern and digitized production workflow, leveraging all of the benefits of a connected environment.

  1. Autonomous Robots

Although robotics is in its early stages in the graphic communi­cations industry, we have seen an increase in use through specific manufacturing systems; for example, activities such as materials movement (as in the Cox Target Media facility) and/or with product inventory control. We expect the level of performance and interaction with humans and systems to improve, and we anticipate increased use of robotics by leading print companies.

  1. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality grows in use by providing real-time information in an effective manner to allow humans to better integrate and interact with electronic systems. Examples can include the transmission of information on repairs for a part that can be viewed through different devices or the training of personnel using simulations and 3D views of the facility or equipment.

  1. Additive Manufacturing

This continues to become increasingly important for small-batch applications or for the production of individual parts or personalized products. This will be used either directly with the customer or by suppliers to improve designs with increased performance, flexibility, and cost effectiveness.


Many of these components are now available to transform the smart factories of tomorrow into the reality of today. Heidelberg is at the forefront of manufacturers who are leveraging Iprinectndustry 4.0 through the Prinect product portfolio. Linked to the most productive equipment, the combination offers significant improvements to the manufacturing process. Having a complete approach across all production areas will ensure great gains for printers today and in the future.