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From industry 2.0 to 4.0

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Today I’m sharing some insights about what means Industry 4.0, and what are the steps that we are giving nowaday within productive processes and our economical system. Technology-based companies have the agility required to optimize processes from the 2.0 industry. Furthermore, data analysis and creativity are leading to develop efficient companies that manage their resources wisely.

What do we call industry 2.0?

The term itsels represents a historical moment where a serie of changes began to take off in manufacturing processes during the eighteenth century. Electric energy was firstly used as a massive service and many assembly chains were created.

But this revolution did not come by itself at all. As occured in past conflicts, the First World War in 1914 also had rellevant influence, contributing on large technological improvements derivated from researches done for belic affairs.

Photo by sergey Svechnikov on Unsplash

All the improvements developed during this period boosted industrial processes when the conflict ended. People’s lifes changed almost all over the world in this new period, moving to the cities and replacing the traditional land work for the new industrial jobs, representing the progress and the future.

Electrical supply was starting to be used for public areas. Steam was replaced by petroleum derivatives as energy source. Steel started to be used in detriment of iron in many fields and the financial capitalist system was just borned. Inventions like the telegram, the first aeroplane, the cinematograph and many other technologies and scientific progresses about food, health and other affairs took place during this revolution.

Industry got developed as a consecuense of all these new features. It brought a radical change in all aspects of the lifes of both individuals and states, marking a break with the past and laying the foundations for subsequent human development.

Producing any good was much cheaper than before, what caused that the industrialized nations generate enormous wealth. As a consequence, large capitals were accumulated, creating large companies and corporations based on industrial activities. Chambers of commerce, banks and insurance companies will also appear by this time. The new companies needed loans, which were guaranteed by banks. But this is another topic, we are not going to talk about It in this post.

So… What is industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is about a new revolution that mixes advanced production techniques with smart technologies. Integrates organizations, people, assets and data analysis, increasing the speed of innovation being very consumer centered.

This revolution is led by the appearance of new technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and the Internet of Things (IoT), among others. Organizations must identify which technologies meet their business and invest on them with the goal of not losing market relevance in this new era.

black and white industrial machine
Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

Now, information and data run witin 3 different states:

  • Physical to digital: The information is captured to create data bases and records.
  • Digital to digital: It is processed to achieve conclusions and improvement possibilities.
  • Digital to physical: Previosly conclucions derivate to physical-world actions as improvements. It can reduce the production time, the cost or any other action that optimize the previously used process.

Here is where industry 4.0 makes the big difference. Automatizating processes goes by the hand with time/cost optimization. Products can be done quicker and cheaper in plants that uses robotics and data analysis as core activity. It also reduces error probabilities since we, as human, are susceptible to make mistakes.

Among other activities, we could mark as brand new and relevant the following ones:

  • Internet of Things (IoT): Not only computers are connected to the Internet, but also industrial machines, home appliances and all kind of devices that can proporcionate data of their usage and management for further analysis.
  • Artificial intelligence and robotics: Machines trying to simulate the human intelligence, taking decisions and solving problems for improving the solutions to take, minimizing the probability of commit a mistake.
  • Machine to Machine communication (M2M): This is about the exchane of data between machines in order to interact and operate without human intervention.
  • Big data: Massive analysis of data that can be stored and used for future applications, solving problems that could not be done before.
  • Cloud Computing: New paradigm that has created the possibility of work with remote resources that are located on the net.
  • Manufacturing execution systems (MES): Computerized systems used in manufacturing to track and document the transformation of raw materials into finished products. It provides information that help to understand how current plant conditions can be optimized to improve production.
  • Virtual/Augmentated reality: Using any dispositive to complement our vision, we increase the information by adding relevant knowledge, in addition to receiving it in real time. This disruptive technology will gain a big relevancy in the coming years in many fields like healthcare, education and daily use.
Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

Will 4.0 mean the end of the actual system?

Systems are borned to die. Every technological discovery helps to develop new machines and productive systems, making obsolet the previous ones. Based on this idea, 4.0 will change (it is already happening in fact) our productive systems and factories, as well as our daily routines, jobs and the way we look for information and innovation processes.

The implementation of all these features that 4.0 industry brings in, will progressively affect supply chains, product development, manufacture, industrial investments, selling processes, customer buying processes…

Keep in mind that we move on with technology. Even our social relationships and the way we interact with our loved ones evolves with these new steps. Pay attention, we’re going ahead!

Photo by Bradley Hook on Pexels

Article written by:

A Product designer who specializes in CAD modeling, 3D printing and other industrial processes.

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