The term Industry 4.0 was coined during the Hannover Messe (one of, if not the most important industrial fair in the world) in 2011. Its concept had, and still has today, a dual objective: to define a development trend in the field of technology for components and systems which are part of the manufacturing industry, already in place for several years, by laying down precise boundaries; to set an objective to pursue for future innovations in the same sector.

The term refers to the onset of the fourth industrial revolution which like the three previous revolutions was started by the trend in technological innovations, new market demands and the need to consolidate entire competing industrial sectors. The fourth revolution follows in the footsteps of the previous ones from this point of view.

The third revolution heralded the entrance of information technology in industry. The power and calculation speed of computers supported the introduction and integration of new technologies, such as anthropomorphic robots, which greatly increased production capacity and also introduced new standards of quality for goods.

The fourth industrial revolution is the revolution of connectivity and big data. Computers and the machines directly controlled by them are evolving from closed systems to interconnected systems thanks to internet (in the sense of IoT, the Internet of Things, where objects are connected to one another remotely). The data generated is collected, analysed and cross-processed by computing systems (often installed in a Cloud) which is then redistributed to all those involved in the value chain, whether humans or machines, to maximise production efficiency (in the sense of Smart Industry). Alongside these technologies, evolutions of those which had already characterised the previous revolutions, new ones have appeared, such as 3D printers, systems which use augmented reality and virtualisation systems.

Industry 4.0 attempts to respond to the 5 main requirements that increasingly stand out as the corner stones for competitiveness among companies worldwide:

  • Increased flexibility in the production of small, possibly customised batches based on customer requirements with costs comparable to those of large-scale production
  • Increased speed in developing new products thanks to rapid prototyping
  • Increased productivity thanks to a decrease in set-up times and a reduction in errors and machine down-time
  • Increased quality through the analysis of the entire production in real time thanks to sensors and data collection processed on the spot
  • Increased competitiveness thanks to high value-added products


In pneumatic automation, the components which meet the criteria of Industry 4.0 are mainly geared towards smart monitoring and predictive maintenance. Smart monitoring means the constant check on the performance of all the components that go to make up an automatic production line by one or more software programs. This software analyses a series of data, programmed according to the maximum efficiency of the system being monitored, and sends a signal in the event of non-compliance with the standards indicated. This allows prompt action to be taken resulting in optimisation of production. Predictive maintenance means preventive maintenance (the most effective type) to anticipate machine down-time by predicting the residual time before faults occur involving system components, by extrapolating and analysing a series of data linked to this system and its parts.

In order to align their offer to the objectives laid down by Industry 4.0, the manufacturers of components for pneumatic automation are moving on two fronts by adapting components that are already widely used to the new requirements and by creating completely new solutions. The first case involves the integration in existing components (cylinders, solenoid valves, proportional technology, FRL assemblies, etc.) of sensors to read the data, and communications systems that can send this data to processing systems, residing on remote computers located in a production plant or directly onto the Cloud.

The second case includes the CROV_DS Series (seen here) which, in addition to meeting the criteria in full envisaged for Industry 4.0 products, also links these products to energy saving which we will look at in depth here.