Industry 4.0: the technological revolution that has already begun

The world stands on the verge of a technological revolution that will fundamentally change the way we live, work and build relationships with each other. In its scope, range, and complexity, the transformation itself will be absolutely unlike anything that has already been experienced by mankind before. A group of scientists led by Dr. Klaus Schwab is actively raising the issue of the importance of this revolution in all economic forums of the past five years. And today we are going to consider his point of view and understand what kind of phenomenon it is.

When the first steam engines appeared and provided an opportunity to move away from manual labor, the first industrial revolution took place. The conquest of the electrical system and the creation of conveyor production was called the second revolution.The third is related to the manufacture automation with the help of electro- and info technology. And it almost imperceptibly, but inevitably passes into the fourth – digital. Now, technologies are merging, and the boundaries of the physical, digital and biological areas are gradually eroding. Dr. Klaus Schwab calls this process “Industry 4.0”.

The essence of the fourth industrial revolution is the total introduction of cybernetic systems directly into production. According to the expert forecast of the McKinsey Global Institute, the world economy in the coming years will be affected by global spread of mobile Internet and IoT systems, cloud computing, energy saving technologies, a certain level of automation of intellectual labor, high-quality development of genetic engineering, robotics, system of motion with the use of autopilot, wide use of 3D-printing and so on. Obviously, this will lead to a complete rethinking of professional areas and the destruction of many jobs, as well as the working class itself.

And similar processes are already becoming a reality. Thus, at the “Bosch Blaichach” industrial giant the unified network was formed from 5,500 machines on the 11 plants. At the same time, most of the products that have come off the assembly line, without human intervention, transmit to the general network all information about their technical condition and reports on operating modes. Thus, the introduced automation completely replaced certain technical departments, besides it significantly increased production efficiency.

We need to understand that this wave is ruthless, and sometimes it’s difficult to recall brands with a hundred-year history that disappeared because they did not manage to saddle this information-digital revolution, could not adapt to radical industry changes. And, on the contrary, we see the results of applying new business models, according to which newly created companies have become world famous brands with billions of assets by offering, for example, unique products on the market and personal approach to the client.

The modern generation, which is also called “natively digital”, has been living in the Internet era since birth and, in fact, has already merged with it. Children of digital technologies, they do not imagine their lives without a global network of goods and services, where they can find all the necessary information or purchase a T-shirt with any drawing, a gadget with unlimited functionality, or publish any content at any time without leaving home. In addition, they have almost unlimited opportunities to express their individuality or manifest themselves as a personality.

Therefore, inflexible producers who are not able to customize their goods-to turn a commodity of mass production into something individual and unique, are forced either to change or to disappear. New principles of “Industry 4.0”, qualitatively different from the usual systems of the past and create both new perspectives and new challenges for entrepreneurs. For example, companies can collect user data in order to customize offers for a specific customer, which will have a positive effect on loyalty. Cybernation and efficiency enhancement provides an opportunity to produce goods on the customer’s individual request. Factories and plants are becoming “smart”, creating unique products that were difficult to imagine even 10-20 years ago, while also reducing production costs and “keeping the price tag” within simple mass products. Here it is – the industrial future that has already come.