Evolution of Industrial Revolution 4.0

Evolution of Industrial Revolution 4.0
Source: QTERA

Industry 4.0 – Definition, History, Design Principles, Advantages, Challenges, and the Future:

Definition of Industry 4.0:

The term ‘Industry 4.0’ is one that integrates advanced manufacturing techniques with the internet of things (IoT) to create manufacturing systems that are not only interconnected but also communicate, analyse and uses the information to drive further intelligent action back in the physical world.

However, the term ‘Industry 4.0’ was first introduced publicly in 2011 as “Industrie 4.0” by a team of representatives from different fields such as (Government, Businesses, and Academia) under an initiative to enhance the ‘German’ competitiveness in the manufacturing industry. The German Federal Government adopted the idea in its ‘High-Tech’ strategy for 2020, which promotes the automation and exchange of data in manufacturing technologies. Subsequently, a working group was formed to further advise on the design and implementation of the Industry 4.0 framework.

Technological transformations have created several advantages for the world of business. New and innovative concepts such as – Digitalization, Internet of Things (IoT), Cognitive Computing, and Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) have gained relevance across industries, especially in manufacturing. These terms are used in defining the 4th Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0, the German high-tech strategy by Hofmann and Rusch.

History of Industry 4.0:

To understand how the Industry 4.0 has become the buzzword, let us look into the history of the evolution of manufacturing and industrial sector in general:

  1. First Industrial Revolution 1.0 (1760 – 1840): The first industrial revolution came to Britain to introduce machines into production by the end of the 18th century. The invention of steam engines kick-started the ‘Industry 1.0.’ This included moving from manual production to the use of steam-powered engines and water as a source for power. It greatly helped the agriculture, and the term “factory” became popular. The transition from hand production methods to machines through the use of steam power and water power marks the 1.0 revolution. However, the implementation of technologies took a long time. One of the industries which benefitted significantly from this development is the ‘Textile Industry,’ and were the first to adopt the methods defined under Industry 1.0. It constituted a massive portion of the British economy during that period.
  2. Second Industrial Revolution 2.0 (1870 – 1914): Industry 2.0 is better known as the ‘Technological Revolution.’ It made possible with the extensive railroad networks and the telegraph that allowed for faster transfer of ideas and people. During the early part of the 20th century, the world entered the second industrial revolution 2.0 with the introduction of ‘Steel’ and the use of ‘Electricity’ in the factories. The defining characteristic of this period was the introduction of ‘Mass Production’ as a primary means to the production in general. The electrification of the factories contributed significantly to production costs. The mass production of steel helped the introduction of railways into the system. Innovations in chemistry, the invention of the – ‘Synthetic Dye’ also mark the period as chemistry which was somewhat in a primitive state then. It is a period of enormous economic growth, with an increase in productivity. However, it caused a surge in unemployment since machines in the factories replaced many workers.
  3. Third Industrial Revolution 3.0 (1950 – 1970): The industrial revolution 3.0 occurred in the late 20th century right after the two world wars. As a result of the slowdown with the industrialization and technological advancements compared to the earlier two periods. It is also called the ‘Digital Revolution,’ and came about the change from mechanical and analogue systems to digital systems. The production of Z1 (electrically driven mechanical calculator) was the beginning of more advanced digital developments. The third revolution is also called the ‘Information Age,’ and is still the direct result of the vast development in ‘Information and Communication Technology’ (ICT) and Super Computers.
  4. Industrial Revolution 4.0: The German economy business science and politics are working together to make industry 4.0 a reality. It encompasses a complete restructuring of production processes transforming analogue and centralized workflows into digital and decentralized production processes. Comprehensive digitalization will decrease production costs and become resource efficient and customer oriented. At the same time new business models, innovative products, and unique services will be created. Machinery and plant engineering, along with the electronics industry, are among the most robust industries in Germany. Internet-driven self-controlling and sensor aided production systems will shape the future of the machines based on cyber-physical production systems; orders will be able to steer themselves independently through the entire value chains.

To summarise, Industry 4.0 is about connecting the physical and digital worlds. Today, most of the manufacturer’s critical assets are a part of the physical world. The workers, tools, machines, and inventories that drive both the production process and the end product which the customers use every day. However, emerging technologies allow manufacturers to use data produced by these physical assets to drive insights based on the data. There the fourth industrial revolution, especially towards the “Smart Manufacturing.”

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