To understand more about Industry 4.0, looking at its predecessors will provide us with a perspective on how manufacturing has evolved since the 1800s.

The first industrial revolution happened between the late 1700s and early 1800 which is the discovery of steam and first machines. Manufacturing has evolved from manual labor and using work animals to a more optimized form of labor through the usage of water and steam-powered engines and other machinery tools.  In the early 20th century, the second industrial revolution was the introduction of steels and electricity in factories. Manufacturers become more efficient and factory machineries become more mobile due to the introduction of electricity. During this phase, mass production concepts like the assembly line came into the picture as a method to enhance productivity.  The third industrial revolution started in the late 1950s with the emergence of computer technology and automations, where robots and machines began to replace human workers on the assembly lines. In this phase, manufacturers place more emphasis on digital technology and automation software.

Industrial Revolution

Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth phase in the Industrial Revolution which has emerged in the past few decades. This term is often used in the management of manufacturing and chain production. More emphasis is placed on digital technology with the help of inter-connectivity, automation, machine leaning, access to real-time data and introduction of cyber-physical systems.  Industry 4.0 can also be referred to as IIoT (The Industrial Internet of Things) whereby cyber-physical systems monitor the physical processes of the factory for decision making. Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are systems in which the cyber and physical systems are integrated at all scales and levels. It uses sensors to connect distributed intelligence in the environment that provides in depth knowledge of the environment. CPS reacts to the data collected from sensors and predicts actions or needs of users.

For example, in a manufacturing industry, CPS can share real-time information among the machines, supply chain, suppliers and customers. It can also control the entire production processes and customize the production to satisfy customer’s preferences. CPS provides high visibility and control in the supply chain, enabling tracking and security of goods. Therefore, CPS open doors to areas of innovations in the manufacturing industry to create higher quality products, improve productivity, save energy and ensure safety of shop floors.  Today, smart manufacturing can be applied to your business that helps to transform the way your business operates and to remain competitive in the industry. Smart manufacturing are fully integrated and collaborative manufacturing systems that uses real-time data and technology to meet changing demands and customer needs. This revolution provides a holistic and comprehensive approach in manufacturing, and empowering business owners to leverage on instant data to boost their productivity and drive growth.