Trend paper ‘Connecting Industry 4.0’: Three innovation practices address IIoT connectivity challenges

May 3, 2023 · 4 min read

Connectivity is the essential enabler for Industry 4.0. While releasing new Single Pair and USB 3.2 connectivity solutions for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in rugged environments, Fischer Connectors experts have described three challenges facing OEM engineers designing IIoT applications, as well as three innovation practices addressing cybersecurity, global logistics and Edge/Cloud infrastructure. Here’s a brief summary of their trend paper entitled “The Connectivity Challenge – Connecting Industry 4.0”.

With billions of smart sensors, computers and machines connected and operating across the Internet, the IIoT market is expected to grow with an annual increase of over 20%, reaching euros 1.5 trillion by 2030.


This exponential growth comes with specific connectivity requirements that only high-performance, high-speed, dependable connectors, cable assemblies and electronic solutions can meet.


Those who want to capture the business benefits of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things confront three challenges – all related to increased connectivity.

"Leaders who want to capture the business benefits of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things can expect a difficult path."

Challenge 1 – Defeating malicious actors

Industry 4.0 factories and their supply chains are vulnerable to malicious attacks. Adopters of Industry 4.0 link production and logistics systems to networks that can be accessed by suppliers and consumers, and previous security practices designed for minimally networked systems are inadequate. Without constant surveillance and rapidly evolving network security practices, any Industry 4.0 solution can create unprecedented vulnerability to severe damage.

Challenge 2 – Integrating global supply chains

Industry 4.0 requires the integration of supply chain performance data with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other corporate management systems. Combining telemetry with ERP data supports joint analysis across the full value chain, offering important business advantages such as better visibility into end-to-end business processes and their share in the cost structure, enhanced analysis and forecasts, and systematic cost optimization.

Challenge 3 – Fully implementing the capabilities of high-performance networks

Early SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and industrial control systems relied on small packets of data, while Industry 4.0 presents a new challenge with advanced sensors and processors that allow a broader range of data to move across IIoT networks. Advanced sensors and analytical software can exploit data for business advantages when the data moves over high-speed connections, such as advanced predictive maintenance, real-time inventory management, and augmented reality solutions. For example, the use of 5G network speeds enables augmented reality solutions for lone workers.


Steam engines, mass-production assembly lines and business computers revolutionized management thinking about technology. With the arrival of Industry 4.0, malicious actors, global supply chains and high-performance networks promise business advantages and require new ways of thinking and acting. Companies that succeed with Industry 4.0 are likely to be those that adopt three innovation practices.

Innovation practice 1 – Build cybersecurity practices into the Industry 4.0 solution

Vastly increased connectivity is essential to the workings of Industry 4.0, but if improperly handled, expanded network connectivity can introduce new levels of vulnerability. Building heightened security into Industry 4.0 solutions at every stage of development must be championed and complied with at every level of an organization. The risk-based mindset adopted by leading companies involves the CTO and CISO in evaluating operating risks and required countermeasures for network and device security. Employee training, operational security, and regular audits are also incorporated into the transformation plan. Suppliers and partners are closely integrated within an Industry 4.0 solution, and vendors are required to deliver security plans, regular audits, and patches. Companies align their cybersecurity standards with guidelines such as NIST SP 800-53 or ISO 27001.

Innovation practice 2 – Create connected global logistics

Industry 4.0 involves more than just factory automation. In connecting the global supply chain into a well-integrated logistics process, companies improve speed, profitability, and customer service. Connected procurement and inventory management are two dimensions of this integration that can benefit from new types of internet-connected sensors, high-speed networks, and advanced analytics. Connected procurement enables predictive analytics to guide or automate purchasing decisions, while connected inventory management relies on autonomous robots and material-handling systems to bring the right articles to shipment docks or factory locations based on demand signals from the ERP.

Innovation practice 3 – Upgrade to Edge/Cloud infrastructure

The traditional assembly line and office network were the backbones of Industry 2.0 and Industry 3.0 respectively, but the rapidly emerging IIoT infrastructure is what forms the backbone of Industry 4.0. What worked for Industry 2.0 and Industry 3.0 is no longer sufficient. Efficient Industry 4.0 infrastructure includes four elements. The ‘Edge’ describes a new generation of physical sensors and devices to capture information. The ‘Network’ transports this data from the Edge to the ‘Cloud’ where the data can be stored and analyzed. Lastly, the ‘User Interface’ enables the collected data to be applied for business purposes.

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