While on a business trip in California, Veerle met her colleague Linda, who was wearing a silver bracelet with a spiral design that got her attention. She took a picture and posted it to her Facebook account, commented that while it was a really nice piece of artwork, her skin may be allergic to silver and so she would not be able to wear it. She then attended a business meeting on the topic of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. She did not realize at that time, but what she would soon learn will change her whole experience on her tasteful affection towards jewelry accessories.
Hype or Hope?
There have been many interpretations and messages overflowing the media about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Depending on the agenda behind the government, technology or automation vendor, system integrator or consulting partner, the emphasis and story is different. Some of the common themes would include:
- Integration from top floor to shop floor
- Integration across supply chain
- Integration between engineering, design and manufacturing
- Shift to a service-oriented business model
- Installation of new robots and automated equipment (digital factory)
- Proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT)
But weren’t we already doing all these things before someone labelled it as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industrie 4.0, or any of the other names currently being used?
Is there anything truly revolutionary going on, or is this just marketing hype? Adding to the confusion is the fact that the “Industrie 4.0” terminology came from the Germany government, as an initiative to spur investment in manufacturing. Then, many other countries followed suit to start their own similar initiatives. China 2025, La Nouvelle France Industrielle, Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (US) and the Robot Revolution Initiative Council (Japan) are just a few. Each of these initiatives is backed by government resources. What is the common core concept that is driving these initiatives and their respective terminologies?
What is Different This Time?
This is not a revolution that has already happened. It is about groups of organizations putting resources to start a revolution. Many who do not understand this core concept and its endgame might easily jump to the conclusion that this is nothing more than an abstract marketing hype without any substance behind it. The truth is this revolution has been gaining momentum for quite some time, with some origins that can be traced back to 2008.
Part 2 of this article will explore the roots of today’s revolution, and will then point to the brave, new world we are now entering – with user experiences that are far beyond what exist today.
If you liked this article, here are a few others you might also find interesting:
- The Post-Fourth Industrial Revolution World – Part 2
- Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution!
- IoT and Energy Efficiency Spur Automation Investments – with MOM in the Middle
- Expanding Manufacturing’s Contribution to a Better Society
- Does the Movie “Transcendence” Portray the Future of the Internet of Things?
- Smart Factories? Try a Smarter Manufacturing Enterprise.