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Blockchain & Industry 4.0.

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Blockchain is at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Digital Economy.

As we already mentioned in previous medium articles, blockchain, in simple terms, is a fundamentally novel technology. Blockchain is a specific type of database, can be described as a data structure that holds transactional records and while ensuring security, transparency, and decentralization. It is important to mention that different types of information can be stored on a blockchain.

We are going through the fourth industrial revolution, which will completely change our way of life, both at work and on a personal level. Industry 4.0 is a digital transformation that will radically change the way businesses are organized, as well as the skills they now require from employees.

Industry 4.0 is commonly referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It represents the next level of evolution of traditional factories, more specifically the smart factories. One of the most important features of smart factories is to be more efficient in terms of resource management and to be highly flexible to adapt to changing production requirements.

In April 2016, the European Commission recognized the importance of promoting measures to support the development of a digitized European Industrial Area and its main objective was to ensure that Europe was ready to meet the future and emerging challenges of digital products and services.

It is important to make clear that Industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in the field of production technologies, combining production methods with modern information and communication technologies. Computers and automation are connected in a new way, the internet world is combined with the world of industrial production also known as the Internet of Things (ΙοΤ). It also includes Cyber-Physical Systems, cloud computing and cognitive computing.

One of the key foundations of Industry 4.0 is the concentration of as much data as possible from the various parts of the value chain. This should be done quickly and ineffective ways and be useful in a factory. Data collection systems must enable it at the same time to obtain, store, process and exchange information with devices developed in factories or suppliers or owned by customers.

In the industrial environment, it can be implemented through blockchain technology, which allows the creation of decentralized applications (DApps) with the ability to monitor and store various transactions carried out by a large number of simultaneous users and devices.

Industry 4.0 consists of some basic technologies. But what are they?

  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Robotics and Autonomous Systems
  • 3D Printing
  • Augmented reality
  • Cloud Computing
  • Intelligent Data Analytics and AI
  • Cybersecurity
  • Community Platforms
Diagram 1: The adoption of Blockchain technology in the technologies of Industry 4.0.

A characteristic of a smart factory is that everything is interconnected. The people, the production machines, the products, the logistics and the IT tools are interconnected, organized and the main goal is to improve the overall production. The main feature of a smart factory is the decentralized system, which concerns the control and the decision, through which the modifications in the production process are facilitated in order to be able to meet the growing demand.

Blockchain is what will be the cohesive web for a smart factory to operate decentralized and coordinated.

This means that the information can be channeled at any point where a decision has to be made with real-time embedded data. This is made possible by smart contributors, through this decentralization decisions can be automated.

It is well known that those who know and understand blockchain technology realize that it can bring many benefits to many industries and can also become a very useful tool for Industry 4.0 applications. However, it is important to mention and emphasize that blockchain is not always the most useful choice for solving every problem.

Principles (Design Principles)

  1. Interconnection — Interoperability
  2. Transparency of information
  3. Technical support
  4. Decentralized decisions — Decentralized decision making

What are the types of Blockchain for Industrial Applications?

There are different types of blockchains depending on how users interact and how data is managed and accessed. More specifically, the blockchain can be distinguished into the following basic types:

Access Regulation

  • Public Blockchain: In a public blockchain, it is possible for anyone to join and participate in the core activities of the blockchain network. The most well-known example is Bitcoin.
  • Private Blockchain: in a Private Blockchain the operator has the right to override, edit, or delete necessary information or entities, and allows only selected, verified participants to enter.

Permissions

  • Permissionless: Public networks that are permissionless do exist, and as discussed earlier the most well-known example is Bitcoin. Such networks are hosted on public servers, allow access to anyone, and are anonymous and highly secure.
  • Permissioned: The permissioned blockchain offers a middle ground solution between public and private, which is why it is increasingly preferred by enterprises. Permissioned blockchains involve a mixture of public and private features and as such, are customizable.

Conclusion

It is understandable from the above that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) paves the way for a new era of smart construction, automated supply networks and customized products and services.

It is important to understand that the main goal of all this is to achieve the so-called “smart factory”, whose key features are adaptability, efficiency, ergonomics and the integration of customers and business partners in the processes. But this requires addressing the ever-increasing demands.

It is reasonable and expected that all these advances will bring new and emerging challenges to industries for which they may not yet be prepared. This means that the need for scalability, better functionality, reliability and security is constantly increasing for many of the applications of Industry 4.0. In these cases, which are enough today.

Blockchain technology is the one that can provide solutions to the challenges that have been created.

Everything shows that it will transform the traditional trading processes in the industry while Blockchain technology will play a key role in Industry 4.0.

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