Considering the exponential growth in technology across various sectors and the adoption of digital technologies, is the world ready for another radical change? This digital transformation of industries is already happening and many believe this is the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Often referred to as Industry 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the age of the intelligent industry with a specific goal. The aim is to transform companies into ‘smart’ organisations to achieve the best possible business results. It has been classified as the fastest way to provide visible results and the effects it has on users.

A Digital Focus

With the focus being on going digital, much of the focus is on the internet being the basis for inter-connectivity and the implications thereof. This is all about the ease of access to information, digital identity, online privacy and security among others.

Adopting New Technologies

Moving into the Fourth Industrial Revolution is based on adopting new technologies especially in terms of automating the production process. It incorporates innovative technologies and their applications in the industry being developed day by day and include the following:

  • additive manufacturing (3D printing)
  • collaborative robotics
  • production planning tools
  • artificial vision
  • virtual reality
  • gamification
  • process simulation
  • operational intelligence
  • IoT (Internet of Things)
  • KET (Key Enabling Technologies)

Information Technology

The implications here are that organisations must have systems in place to effectively operate and manage broadband information and infrastructures. Not only does this refer to information technologies (IT) but also buildings and traffic systems.

Related: ‘Augmented And Virtual Reality In Manufacturing’

Smart Factories And The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The digital transformation of Industry 4.0 means new smart factories where machines are constantly connected to the internet. They produce, collect and analyze data across the supply chain to identify ways to improve quality, optimise processes, cost reduction and general compliance.

Automation and Intercommunication

Here, automation and intercommunication form the basis for optimising design and production processes resulting in the production of customised, flexible and efficient products. This affects the lifecycle of products starting with research, design, prototyping, production, distribution and client management.

From there, it focuses on linked services connecting all the parties involved to work in a more agile way within the production process. As a result, there will be an increase in productivity, competitiveness along with greatly reducing associated costs.

Growth Of IoT, Big Data and Analytics

In today’s modern manufacturing world there is a stronger interrelation between different areas of the business from products and processes to business models. Everything up to now has led to the growth of IoT, big data and analytics in the industrial world.

These advances in technology allow companies to further optimise their manufacturing processes, improve supervision while integrating more with other processes and systems within the factory.

Real-Time Digital Data

Considering that production control is essential in a Smart Factory, digitally integrating information offers real-time data access. This information will be specific for each production line or user profile to make them more relevant to the business.

This refers to the information available to operators and executives to promote efficiency within their respective positions. It also includes data that company executives or department heads obtained in real time which provide greater diagnostics. Not only does this apply to the global situation of a factory but also integrating effective decision making within the production process.

Industry 4.0 is characterized by the quickest way to provide visible results and the degree to which it affects users. It is about the internet as a basis for interconnection and the implications this has in terms of the ease of access to information, digital identity, privacy, security, etc. are massive.

What Are Key Enabling Technologies (KET)?

As defined by the European Commission, “Key Enabling Technologies provide the basis for innovation in a range of products across all industrial sectors. They underpin the shift to a greener economy, are instrumental in modernising Europe’s industrial base, and drive the development of entirely new industries. Their importance makes them a key element of European industrial policy.”

Key Enabling Technologies

Key Enabling Technologies have numerous applications across several industries while also helping solve societal challenges. KET encompasses a group of six technologies:

  • micro and nanoelectronics
  • nanotechnology
  • industrial biotechnology
  • advanced materials
  • photonics
  • advanced manufacturing technologies

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a quantitative and qualitative leap into the future of effectively organising and managing value chains. This new era of industry means is greater automation, connectivity and globalization. Many believe that countries who fully understand and implement KETs will be frontrunners in creating advanced and sustainable economies.

Benefiting The Global Society

There are various networks (councils) across the world committed to advancing and supporting the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They focus on developing and launching pilot frameworks aligned with topics around emerging technologies and how they can be used to benefit the global society.

Fourth Industrial Revolution Networks

Members of the Fourth Industrial Revolution Networks are there by invite only and include leaders in tech start-ups, government and academic institutions, big corporations and civil societies. For the moment, the six Fourth Industrial Revolution Councils are as follows:

  • Artificial Intelligence Council
  • Internet of Things Council
  • Blockchain Council
  • Autonomous and Urban Mobility Council
  • Drones and Aerial Mobility Council
  • Precision Medicine Council

The combined knowledge from each council member helps identify and understand the positive impact of innovative technologies on society as a whole. Read the full article for more information on global cities integrate with the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network.

Final Thoughts On The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution opens the door for more opportunities to adapt in terms of education, regulation and business development. For many, it means creating a better environment with the types of technologies that power the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As mentioned earlier, these mainly refer to Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Drone technology, Blockchain and precision medicine among others.

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