Around the world, developments in automation and mechanization are being introduced to a new wave of technological revolution. We are in the midst of a significant digital transformation in the way manufacturers produce our products. This transition is being labeled Industry 4.0 to represent the 4th revolution that is happening in the industry today. A combination of machine learning, IoT, and AI is helping to build smarter factories.
The Foundations of Industry 4.0 and the New Industry “Normal”
Although Industry 4.0 builds upon the advancements of previous eras, it is important to note that there are some major changes in this new era of industrial development. Industry 3.0 introduced computers to the industry. This brought with it many disruptive and positive changes. As we continue moving into Industry 4.0 not only are there computers, but the computers are now able to communicate with each other and collect and digest mounds of machine and IoT data.
However, with the rise of Industry 4.0 and its related technologies, the need for constant human intervention in machines’ processes begins to dissipate. Advancements in machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, sensor technology, and other developments, have allowed systems to not only run by themselves but self-regulate and self-correct in ways that have not been seen before.
COVID-19 and the Need for Automation/Remote Work
One of the most impactful changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the shift of non-essential workers towards a remote work setting. Without an in-person worker base to monitor and correct issues within machinery, computer systems, or the supply chain in general, it has become more vital than ever for organizations to find new ways to automate their systems. This revolution has been accelerated because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Manufacturers are beginning to see the value of collecting volumes of data that can be used to inform when machines need maintenance, triage problems quickly, reduce waste, reduce downtime and provide production insight. Without having this digital visibility this would have been impossible for a line worker to do in a reasonable amount of time. Having a digital factory that can also connect into the supply chain providing up to the day information on shipments, deliveries, and supply chain help to build happy customers.
Covid-19 has shown manufacturers around the world that distant chaos can quickly become a worldwide crisis. No one is sure when the next pandemic or interruption may ensue, but by integrating AI, machine learning, and other I-4.0 developments, companies can focus on creating systems that can work against the constraints of these disasters.
Industry 4.0 and Changes in Required Skills for Companies and Their Workers
New technologies need new skills. AI, Machine Learning, data analytics, programming, problem-solving, critical thinking, and innovation are emerging skills needed for Industry 4.0 success. This will transform manufacturing, supply chain, and product development. It will also create a demand to recruit top performers and provide training programs to upskill your existing workforce.
There will be a shift towards education and skill-building to fill this gap in the near future. As Manufacturers reconfigure their production and supply chains it will only increase the need for upskilling or re-training existing workers. Manufacturers can look for new talent, upskill current employees, or do a hybrid of both. Most will look to keep and upskill their current workers. Organizations like the New Jersey Institute of Technology are addressing this rapidly approaching gap and beginning to develop programs to upskill and re-train employees to fill these positions. Just as important, NJIT is helping manufacturers with gaining insight into the impact the digital transformation will have on their organizations and planning for future automation. Having a clear roadmap and guidelines into how to execute this digital process is critical for success.
The Industry 4.0 digital transformation is helping manufacturers optimize all aspects of the supply chain and manufacturing process. Organizations see real-time insights, reduce waste, shorten downtime, make faster decisions, and boost productivity throughout the entire operation. This new industrial revolution is the next wave of using technology to drive efficiencies throughout the organization to reduce cost and better service your customers.