Rapid advances in technology have been the catalyst for changing the world as we know it.
We are currently in a rapidly shifting and rapidly evolving industrial world that has been described by the World Economic Forum as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
For many people who work in supply chain industries, these advances have already taken effect, with smart logistics and warehousing allowing for efficient procurement, and smart manufacturing allowing machine parts to be made with greater accuracy and speed than ever before.
There is more to Industry 4.0 than this, however, and more advances in technology that have brought us to this point. Here are some of the technological trends and advances that have made the current state of industry possible.
What Is An Industrial Revolution?
An industrial revolution is a seismic shift in the way we live and the way we construct and create, in which standard production methods of the era are replaced with far more efficient methods.
The First Industrial Revolution started in the late 18th century and was the movement away from guilds and handcrafted products and towards more automated production methods such as textile looms, ironmongering and the advent of steam-powered machinery.
The Second Industrial Revolution, about a century later, saw the birth of the railway, long-distance communications through the telegraph, steelworks and electric power, culminating before the advent of the First World War with the production line process that birthed mass production.
The Third Industrial Revolution was arguably even most significant, moving away from analogue technology towards digital electronics and the rapid rise of the internet in the latter part of the 20th Century.
The Industrial Internet Of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the central trend that has made the Fourth Industrial Revolution possible and set it apart from the digital revolution of decades past.
Sometimes known as “smart” technology, IoT is the connection of physical objects via sensors and other control systems to create a network of physical objects that can communicate with each other remotely and connect to computers and other devices.
This allows for access to data and systems in real-time, enabling for the running of more efficient supply chains, alter production lines as soon as required and track inventory to enable just in time logistics.
As well as this, some technologies, such as 3D printing allows for rapid prototyping and small-scale distribution using the IIoT.
Many more people are remote working as a result of safety and legal guidance, which is made possible through advances in cloud computing and networking.
Cloud computing or distributed computing is where computation processes, storage and other systems which previously needed a physical computer can be undertaken via the internet and access to much more powerful technology.
Artificial Intelligence And Automation
The rise in AI has brought with it the potential for a new generation of automated workers, able to undertake tasks with very little human intervention.
Equipped with IoT data, sensors and the ability to be controlled remotely, they can perform increasingly complex tasks and react to the information they find in their surroundings.