What is Industry 4.0?

17 February 2020
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  • Today in the manufacturing sector and circles, everyone is talking about Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Depending on where you’re getting your information from, the future is painted as a dystopian one. Either the robots are going to rule, much like Terminator, or it’s all about augmented realities being so close to actual realities that you don’t know what’s real and what’s not, much like Inception.

    Given how much we get asked by our clients about the 4th Industrial Revolution, here’s a quick and short guide to what it is, and perhaps what it is not.

    1. It’s a gradual evolution of industry, driven by technology.

    It all kicked off in Victorian England, in a city called Manchester, where we’re based, with the discovery of steam and its benefits. The technology being water and steam, kicked off the first industrial revolution. Then, along came electricity, bringing with it the second industrial revolution, which went on for a while. Then, at some point of time, the silicon chip and its wonders were made known to humankind, giving rise to computers and the third revolution. Now, we’re in the era of high-speed Internet and as a result we’re able to send and receive a lot more than we could. Welcome to the fourth revolution, where the speed and volume of data transfer drive change.

    2. The Nine Pillars and Two Key Ingredients.

    According to experts, and now, common knowledge, this fourth industrial revolution comprises nine pillars. In alphabetic order, these are additive manufacturing, augmented reality, autonomous robots, big data, cloud computing, cybersecurity, Internet of things, simulation and system integration. You can read about these by doing a simple Google search. What we’re going to briefly touch on are two essential ingredients to successfully implement any Industry 4.0 technologies you may want to.

    Ingredient 1 – Collaboration: Adopting a collaborative approach is paramount to driving Industry 4.0 in organisations. Collaboration within teams, between teams, within organisation and collaboration along the entire supply chain is a must. Working in silos won’t work.

    Ingredient 2 – People: People not just as a resource or a pool of skill or talent, but enabling and empowering people is essential. The flow of ideas and initiatives has to be both ways. When people are enabled to do things, they become empowered to take ownership of situations and deliver their best.

    3. Technology and Humans.

    Looking at the last three revolutions, it has always been humans and technology working hand in hand. It has never been us against them. Technology has always been used as a toll to aid us humans in what we need to do. Yes, there is a certain level of work that can be automated and robotised, but that will free up us humans to do what we do best, think! No amount of AI can match human ingenuity. As a result of this, our jobs will become more interesting and more fun, so cheer up!

    4. Change and Constant.

    Over the last few centuries, technology has changed and it has driven only how we do things. It has not changed what we want from work and life. As industry what we have always wanted from business has not changed and will not change. The quicker we adopt the new technology, the quicker we can continue to reap the benefits it has to offer.

    As a closing note we’d like to stress that contrary to popular belief, industry 4.0 is affordable, fairly easy to adopt and any company regardless of size or turnover can adopt it with a little effort. To know more, get in touch!

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