Embark on the Industry 4.0 revolution, where AI and ML supercharge automation and data analytics blend with robust cybersecurity and human-machine collaboration. Yet, this future is not without its trials, including elusive OT visibility, outdated systems, and neglected network security. Overcoming these hurdles demands a blend of tech innovation, organizational and process revamping, and skill development. Ready to take on the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s challenges and lead the charge? We focus on essential elements: robust industrial network connectivity, clear visibility, robust cybersecurity, agile segmentation, and precise access control. We aim to boost production, ramp up profits, cut operational costs, and ensure industry compliance, all while carefully balancing the IT-OT relationship. Here, we will outline five strategic steps for a dynamic and progressive journey into Industry 4.0.

The foundation

We begin by crafting a resilient industrial blueprint, aligning with a strategic framework such as the Purdue Model. Our focus is on carefully selecting networking platforms with a software-defined capability that excel in scalability, dynamic adaptability, intelligent segmentation, and asset visibility. The goal of this initial stage is straightforward: to build an automated and intelligent network that elevates the network into a proactive sensor, enhancing both visibility and security from the ground up.

Visibility and segmentation

Moving into the second phase, we aim to create pervasive visibility within our network. We’ll embed applications into the industrial network that monitor assets, assess vulnerability, perform deep packet inspection, and integrate with security systems like firewalls and SIEMs. This will shed light on our digital ecosystem, providing crucial insights into its operations. As part of this phase, the focus is on implementing a solid segmentation strategy, embedding asset data into the network using technologies such as 802.1x and advanced policy engines for dynamic grouping based on security profiles. This critical move turns our network into a security enforcer with enhanced visibility and intelligent segmentation, ensuring assets are effectively protected. This phase of the architecture leverages the solid Cisco Industrial Ethernet foundation from phase 1 and adds Cyber Vision embedded sensors, integration with ISE (Identity Services Engine), firewalls, SIEMs, and asset management solutions.

Advanced connectivity with wired and wireless

In phase three, we turn to cutting-edge connectivity, exploring wireless technologies and advancements in AGV systems. Building on our secure base, we consider zero-loss wireless solutions, resilient connectivity in motion, and SD-WAN for seamless WAN connections across locations. We look to integrate advanced sensor networks for live monitoring and data-driven insights. Preparing for Cisco Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul low latency loss less handoffs, 5G’s high speed, and Wi-Fi 6’s enhanced capabilities is not just an upgrade but a transformative leap that is totally dependent upon understanding your use cases, opening doors to new efficiencies, and positioning businesses at the forefront of industrial innovation.

Realizing outcomes

Phase four focuses on using our infrastructure to drive smarter, faster business decisions. In this phase, we aggregate data to make sound and informed decisions. The goal is to boost efficiency, decrease risk, reduce downtime, and decrease errors, leveraging Industry 4.0 to refine operations and achieve better outcomes. We accomplish this by leveraging the network in both on premise and cloud capacities, to gain access to data in all corners of the network so that it can be processed using AI learning models and analytics tools.

IT & OT interlock

In the final phase, we aim for a lasting impact through a strong IT-OT alliance and a firm grasp of policies and culture. We prioritize automated, dynamic responses to operational events, informed by data and risk assessments. This proactive approach ensures a flexible, resilient operation that continuously improves and excels. The ideal state in this final phase is for a trusted relationship between IT-OT and a network infrastructure that dynamically makes decisions based on intelligent information.

This phased approach unlocks the full potential of your Industry 4.0 infrastructure, driving growth and keeping you ahead and secure in the fast-paced digital world. Looking for an industry-leading partner? Cisco’s Industrial IoT (IIoT) experts and engineers are on hand to help you navigate this transformation. Contact us to start a partnership and map out your enterprise’s journey forward. Our team is ready to demo our latest Cisco industrial solutions and share how we’ve helped manufacturers like you successfully and securely update their industrial network to keep their business moving.

Click here to schedule a 15-minute personalized manufacturing consultation.


Kevin Wood

Industrial IoT Architecture Lead

Industrial IoT Americas Sales