Industry 4.0 is the new term which is heard nowadays in high tech societies. There is whole new lingo for it. The words like IOT, Bot, Blockchain, Real Time Lean Manufacturing, Cyberphysical Systems are parts of the new vocabulary. In this article, we will try to understand the concept of Industry 4.0. In the subsequent parts, we will try and decode the meaning of those words mentioned above and what is means to industry.
Industry 4.0 is the term for the latest industrial revolution which is happening as we speak. As the term itself speaks, this is the fourth industrial revolution since the age of man. The first industrial revolution, as we all know it, was the invention of steam engine or mechanisation of work. During this revolution, large scale physical work such as compression and locomotion were shifted from human and animal burden due to advent of engines. Post this revolution, engines became a common place phenomenon.
Second industrial revolution was the mass production of machines or assembly line manufacturing. Until this point, the machines (which were invented to make human work easy) were produced piece by piece and by hand. In this period, assembly line manufacturing was created. The machine’s design was broken down into small pieces which were repeatedly manufactured and assembled in a queue. Due to this, the time taken for production of machines and the effort behind each was drastically reduced. This led to more and more machines to be supplied to meet the demand.
In the last or third industrial revolution, there was advent of computers and automation. The tasks which were repetitive and mundane were shifted from human to machine. Robotic processes took over the assembly line where workers had to endure danger and repetitive work for production. While, the computers started handling the task of data collection and basic calculations. We all will agree the relief brought in due to computer and robotic process automation in our lives.
Now, in the fourth industrial revolution, the next human intervention of interfacing and intelligence is being given to machines. Till the third revolution, machines were becoming sophisticated in terms of material handling and carrying out complex processes. But, now the next generation of machine systems will be capable of talking to each other via software systems. A fully automated factory with little or no human intervention, physical or intelligence, is devised where machine will respond to the demand punched in via a computer terminal. Decisions such as the optimization of process, choice of raw material and production planning shall be handled and executed through software.
In the next part, we will learn about parts and vocabulary of Industry 4.0