We are entering the next industrial revolution. Industry 4.0 will hopefully be an age of greener energy and happier and healthier people.
That’s not certain but what is certain is that we are entering a time with more automation than ever, where essentially everything will be a connected part of the Internet of Things, but with upgrades that come at a much lower cost than the previous three revolutions. The developed world that was driving the first industrial revolutions will be changing to services while at least 40 percent of manufacturing will happen in emerging markets. But no country can stand on an import-focused service-based economy alone as manufacturing will remain a crucial part of our lives and our cultural and corporate value chain. To succeed in the next epoch, every country and every company has to be ready to embrace the three pillars Industry 4.0 will stand on: automation, data exchange and new manufacturing techniques and technologies.
So, how do you find success in Industry 4.0? First and foremost, no matter what industry you’re in, you have to be ready to disrupt and you have to think about your competition in a different way. And you have to think about them outside your sector’s natural boundaries because, believe it or not, Amazon and Google and Uber and a couple companies that haven’t even been formed yet are certainly ready to disrupt your business.
While the assembly line was only created a mere century ago, it’s a far-off echo in the evolution of man and machine. Earlier this year, Google’s AlphaGo, a very clever machine, beat the world champion at arguable the world’s most challenging game Go with more possible moves than atoms in the universe. We saw it happen in the Rust Belt nearly collapsing the car industry and we will see it happen everywhere—machines will be taking over many of our jobs. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be jobs, it just means our workforce will have to pivot and the next generation should study new forms of job-ready skills, only discovered by finding new ways of adding value in that manufacturing chain.
McKinsey’s report on Industry 4.0 predicts that this disruptive shift to the fourth industrial era will happen over the next decade and will focus not on big budget upgrades but strategic ones that target closing efficiency and productivity gaps. But, as the writers of this white paper pointed out: Information itself does not have inherent value. It’s all about better using this big data all these devices will accumulate to identify areas of improvement, doing whatever we can to collect and synthesize as much information from as many resources as possible. The next generation of successful companies will be able to pinpoint where they can maximize value, including better utilizing assets. They’ll do this by not only using internal data resources like the machinery itself, but by pulling from external sources like energy prices, to then combine for new analytics.
Of course the next step will then be to take this information, feed it back into the machines, which will then be able to use machine learning and eventually deep learning to start giving information back to you. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet. First, we bring it to you: How do you see your role and your life changing as a result of Industry 4.0?