An Introduction to the fourth industrial revolution

In this topic we will cover :

  • The background of Industry 4.0,
  • The origins of Industry 4.0, and
  • The features of Industry 4.0

The Background

As you read this, we are all firmly ensconced in the fourth (4th) Industrial Revolution, so called “Industry 4.0”. Changes are occuring at an increasingly rapid rate. These changes are affecting every aspect of our lives and altering the competitive landscape in ALL industries.

To understand the fourth industrial revolution, we must first have an appreciation for what preceeded it……… you guessed it, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd industrial revolutions.

In short, the revolutions can be sumarised as follows:

  • 1st revolution (1765) – mechanisation/steam
  • 2nd revolution (1870) – electrofication
  • 3rd revolution (1969) – digitisation/computing
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The 1st industrial revolution began in Britain in the late 18th century, with the mechanisation of the textile industry. The invention of mechanical production powered by water and steam enabled automation of some tasks and represeted a significant breakthrough in productivity and consistency of production.

The 2nd industrial revolution began in America in the early 19th century, with electricity and mass production enhanced by automation. Fueled by the start of mass production powered by electricity and combustion engines to power machines, the first assembly lines were introduced. The use of new materials and chemicals became possible and communication was getting easier.

The 3rd industrial revolution began in America in the middle of the 20th century with the harness of electronics and information technology to automate production.  In 1969, the introduction of automation and robotics ushered a new era (Industry 3.0). Electronics and IT such as internet, mobile, computers, cloud and big data merged into a digital era of the information age.

Super computer fools people into thinking it is 13-year-old boy in ...

Did you notice a trend? Have another look at the timelines………………… Notice anything? Yes, the time between revolutions has accelerated.

Is there anything else? It is interesting that the term “automation” continually appears.

Each industrial revolution has been driven (in part) by a need to produce more, cheaper and faster. To satisfy increased output, many tasks became automated. Although initial expenditure to establish the necessary machinery, processes or systems was high, this expenditure could be offset by increased production at a cheaper cost.

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