Whenever we talk about advancements, we only tend to discuss the invention of computers, the birth of the internet, the evolution of cellphones and smartphones, social media and other stuff. But what is also part of the greater scheme of things is the industries – the massive factories – that silently shape our economy, influencing our lifestyle.
If you notice the industrial timeline, a lot has happened over the centuries. You’ll be surprised to know that the way industries function right now isn’t the same as it was a decade back. Industries are evolving at a rapid pace and one of the crucial players in this has been technology.
It all started with the invention of steam. Then mechanics came into action, making work a little convenient for our ancestors. Then arrived electricity, which completely changed the way industries operated. From assembly lines and conveyor belts, that phase of the industrial revolution took care of mass production, further promoting the efficiency of industries.
And now, we’re at the dawn of a new era of the industrial revolution that is marked by the application of computers, connected devices, robotics, and artificial intelligence. If you’ve been to any of those conferences and keynote events on IoT, I’m pretty much sure you would be aware of the term Industry 4.0. If not, here are some of the things you need to know.
Smart homes, smart watches, smartphones and now it’s the rise of smart factories. Industry 4.0, in simple words, is an ecosystem of industrial machinery, automated robots, sensors, the internet and machine learning technology. The machines in Industry 4.0 have embedded sensors and are connected to other devices in the factories. With the help of machine learning technologies, they are controlled and operated by automated robots. The entire ecosystem will pave way for the efficiency and evolution of supply-chain management. The autonomous decisions made by the devices using machine learning will also promote the deliverance of better quality at cost-effective prices.
There’s a general misconception that automation will steal jobs and that the employment of low-skilled labourers will be at stake. It’s false! Automation will only create new opportunities. When spreadsheets made their way into the market, there was a lot of speculation that clerks would lose their jobs. In reality, what happened was completely different. People adapted and upskilled to emerging technology and grew in their careers. Now, almost everyone of uses spreadsheets and is capable enough to do some of the most common tasks.
Automation in industries will replicate the same. Since smart factories involve the generation of massive volumes of data, there has to be a data analyst, a machine learning specialist and a Big Data expert who can work on the data, get insights from them, optimize processes and machinery and keep the production going. It’s on us to spot an opportunity and prepare ourselves for a better role.
Let’s admit it – today’s market is evolving. Consumers today are more aware of what’s in the market and what they want. It’s a completely volatile market out there and what’s trending today can go extinct tomorrow. Besides, customers are also looking for unique or personalized products and services. This can only be facilitated by smart factories or Industry 4.0. With huge amounts of data involved, products can be more customer-centric and can be designed and produced in a way that a consumer expects them to be. This digitization will only help manufacture customized products without any additional cost involved.
With data, insights can be drawn for almost anything. Earlier, without digitization, it was really hard to keep track and get insights into business models and the expenses involved in manufacturing. Resource outages, power consumption, energy constraints and more hurdled the smooth functioning of industries. But now, with robots, artificial intelligence and machine learning involved, it becomes easier for industries to get data on all these and work towards creating a factory that can tackle power, raw material and energy constraints. This will significantly cut down production costs and further help industries emerge as more sustainable and stable organizations.
Industry 4.0 is not the future but reality now. It’s been there for over a couple of years and it will continue to evolve in the coming months, bringing in innovation and efficiency with the evolution. It’s now up to us to capitalize on this phase of the industrial revolution and make a career that is more meaningful, purpose-driven and lucrative.