Within the manufacturing industry, there have been revolutions that have changed everything from how we work to what we can accomplish. Such revolutions are sporadic, often with decades in-between, but Industry 4.0, the 4th industrial revolution, is nevertheless upon us. Built on the foundations of automation and technology, Industry 4.0 is going to make more and more core manufacturing processes ‘smart’, with machines playing an even larger role than ever before. What does this entail, and how will Industry 4.0 change the planet as we know it? Sanjeev Mansotra, a successful entrepreneur who is determined to cultivate the same level of success in others, has some thoughts on the subject.
The Core Principles
Industry 4.0 has some core principles which are centric to the sweeping changes it will undoubtedly make. First, the process of decision-making is changing hands, moving from being entirely human-based towards being shared by man and machine alike. Thanks to artificial intelligence, machines are now capable of making these decisions entirely independent of humans, even going so far as being able to provide suggestions for future ones.
Overall, computers and machines are stepping up their game, and are going to be able to work independently of people on much more than just the menial, simple tasks they can do now. An increase to the complexity of the tasks they can accomplish means than human workers as well as administrators will be able to set their focus elsewhere, knowing that they are in capable hands.
Another core principle of Industry 4.0 is a huge improvement to communication, specifically between machines. With advancements in technology happening on a near-constant basis, these machines will be able to communicate and share information with one another, namely without human input of any kind. The data that these computers collect will be communicated, cross-referenced, and have suggestions made on it at lightning speed, presenting human workers with palpable results.
Sanjeev Mansotra argues that perhaps the most important underlying ideal of Industry 4.0 is that it is an increase to the prominence of both machines as well as artificial intelligence: It represents man and machine working together, with the individual strengths of each being pushed to their maximum potential.
With all of these values in mind, there are specific examples of Industry 4.0 that are seeing usage even today, the culmination of ideas becoming a promising reality. One such example is the process of smart manufacturing, which entails the incorporation of AI-powered machines into facilities to the extent where they are no longer just tools but more akin to being co-workers for humans to work alongside.
Another example is the new concept of “lights out” manufacturing. The process involves factories that consist only of machine workers, therefore being able to run with the lights off, hence the name. While this isn’t the literal truth in every case, there are more than a few factories that can indeed run in a pitch-black environment, tirelessly toiling away at the production of goods in a more efficient and more accurate manner than accomplishable by humans.
One last cornerstone of Industry 4.0 is a concept called the “Internet of Things” or IoT for short, according to Sanjeev Mansotra. Computers are collecting data and communicating with one another with little to no interaction from humans; the information that these machines are capable of collecting is being enhanced with a level of connectivity and analysis that likens it to the internet itself, with a vast database being available at the push of a button, rife with feedback and suggestions from these machines.
What does this all mean for the world? Ideally, Industry 4.0 represents reductions in costs, even better quality in goods or services, and more of a hands-off approach for consumers and producers alike. With machines as the backbone of everything that we do, incapable of fatigue and far less susceptible to inaccuracies, as a collective whole humanity will be able to accomplish more thanks to this harmony between man and machine. With Industry 4.0 already on the horizon, it’s only a matter of time before we experience these spectacular effects.