The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Economic historians rate the first industrial revolution as the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals, plants and fire. Harnessing the power of the steam engine in the 18th century heralded the introduction of mechanical manufacturing and fundamental changes in society and daily life.
In the same way, the rise of mass production techniques in the early 20th century, the second revolution, and the incorporation of electronic systems and computer technologies, the third, introduced smarter, more efficient means of producing goods.
With 50 billion electronic devices set to be connected to the internet by 2022, the fourth industrial revolution, in the form of Industry 4.0, is set to radically change manufacturing once more.
True Manufacturing Connectivity and Efficiency
Industry 4.0 is a move from centralised to decentralised production, turning conventional production process logic on its head, with devices and assets generating their own digital presence and connecting with each other in real-time along the production line.
This is a cyber-physical system, a networked world in which intelligent objects communicate and interact with each other, unlocking new applications and processes as the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds disappear.
Even now, technologies including video cameras, RFID readers, digital tablets, security swipe cards are facilitating this paradigm shift. Open-standard, network-enabled devices like these play a key role in helping manufacturing operations to reach new heights of production quality and efficiency.
Once organisations have seamlessly enabled device connection, auto-ID technologies enable them to see events occurring throughout their value chain and improve performance. With complete visibility of the relationships between items, processes and people, transactions taking place, enterprises can move closer to true connectivity and the efficiencies that come with it.
About the Author: David Taylor is the Business Development Manager for Manufacturing in UK and Ireland at Zebra, responsible for end-user and channel engagement, whilst also acting as the vertical marketing lead for Manufacturing across EMEA.