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What is Industry 4.0?

The first three industrial revolutions: the steam engine; mass production; and automation, fundamentally changed society. Now, the digitisation and connectivity of systems are driving the fourth industrial revolution – Industry 4.0. The physical and digital worlds can now be linked into cyber-physical systems, and this digitisation of our world has enabled the evolution of new technologies such as digital twins, machine learning, 3D printing and virtual reality.

The industrial revolutions have driven and developed global economies. We are now well-positioned to embrace the opportunities presented by Industry 4.0 to enhance productivity, competitiveness and profitability.

The four industrial revolutions

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INDUSTRY 1.0


  • Mechanisation
  • Steam power
  • Weaving loom

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INDUSTRY 2.0


  • Mass production
  • Assembly line
  • Electrical energy

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INDUSTRY 3.0


  • Automation
  • Computers
  • Electronics

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INDUSTRY 4.0


  • Cyber physical systems
  • Internet of Things
  • Networks

UniSA's Industry 4.0 Testlab

The University of South Australia’s Industry 4.0 Testlab has been set up to demonstrate Industry 4.0 methodologies and practices and includes practical laboratory-based capabilities and a pilot scale manufacturing demonstration. The Testlab has a particular focus on the defence sector, and is also highly relevant to the space, mining, electronics, food and agriculture, and automotive industries.

A key objective of the Testlab is engagement with small and medium enterprises (SMEs), introducing them to a broad range of Industry 4.0 strategies, methodologies and approaches. This includes demonstrating how these methods can be adopted by industry to enhance productivity, competitiveness and profitability. The Testlab provides local SMEs and high-tech start-ups with otherwise unattainable access to these smart factory technologies.

The Testlab is focused on three core areas in which we have world-class expertise:

CAD and additive manufacturing

A suite of world-class 3D printing facilities unique in Australia, augmented by our existing world-class nanofabrication facilities.

Pilot scale manufacturing demonstration

An industrial scale manufacturing facility demonstrating how retrofitted sensors and internet connectivity can be used to create an Internet of Things and real-time decision-making capabilities.

Virtual and augmented realities

UniSA is home to one of the largest concentrations of virtual and augmented reality researchers in Australia. This expertise is showcased within the Testlab by a multiplayer virtual reality space for interactive studies and human-centred design.

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This project is supported by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources through the Industry 4.0 Testlabs for Australia program.