Industry 4.0 is probably the most spoken — and hence most heard of — terminologies amongst the tech fraternity today. It has not only emerged as a smart revolution in the technology industry but has touched almost every industry with its capability of seamless integration in every domain. So let’s go back in time and look for the roots of this technology. But before starting our journey backwards let’s quickly understand the present of Industry 4.0.
Consider a garment manufacturing industry for example and imagine if the entire manufacturing process along with the inventory, distribution of products and feedback from customers on colours and design all of this is taken care of automatically with little or no human intervention. This is what industry 4.0 makes possible by including new technologies in the manufacturing process and integrating them with Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, analytics, AI and machine learning into their production facilities and throughout their operations.
With this basic knowledge of today’s scenario of Industries, let us fasten the seat belts and go back in time and see how things evolved.
First Industrial Revolution
The late 18th century saw the advent of the first industrial revolution in Britain. The invention of steam power and water power during this era of the industrial revolution enabled mass production instead of relying solely on the power of humans and animals. So, instead of laboriously producing goods by hand, this era allowed for finished goods to be built with machines.
Second Industrial Revolution
As the second industrial revolution entered full swing a century later, assembly lines as well as the use of oil, gas and electricity were introduced a century after the first revolution. As a result of these new power sources, as well as advanced communication via telephone and telegraph, mass production as well as some degree of automation of manufacturing processes began to emerge during the 19th century.
Third Industrial Revolution
As the third industrial revolution began in the mid-20th century, manufacturing processes were enhanced by computers, advanced telecommunications, and data analysis. Automating some processes and sharing data was made possible by embedding programmable logic controllers (PLCs) into machinery.
Fourth Industrial Revolution
The fourth industrial revolution — called Industry 4.0 — is marked by increased automation and the use of smart machines and smart factories. The value chain can be more efficient and productive with the use of informed data in this era. With improved flexibility, manufacturers can better meet customer demands through mass customization and, in many cases, achieve efficiency with small lot sizes. Data collected from the factory floor and combined with operational data from other companies can generate more transparency and better decisions in a smart factory.
A Final Word
From steam to sensor, this technical journey involving huge intellect and great efforts has brought mankind immense comforts leading to a hassle-free and lavish lifestyle with improved health and hygiene. While enjoying these sweet fruits of technology, mankind is also dealing with its hazardous and irreversible damage to nature, the environment and, in turn, our entire ecosystem. This revolution has made lives sophisticated and has completely altered the way we think and react.