What is Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 has been instrumental in transforming our modern society. The best way to understand this Industry is to have a comprehensive look at the different phases it has undergone before getting to the state it is at the moment. This chapter evaluates the evolution from Industry 0.0, through Industry 1.0, Industry 2.0, Industry 3.0, to present day Industry 4.0.

Industry 0.0: Ancient Egypt technological achievement

Ancient Egyptians are known to have been the most advanced technologically. They lived during a period when the idea of the Internet never existed neither did large steam engines. Curiously, they were still able to go about their lives with the aid of simple machines like lever and ramp which were used in construction. They also invented the Egyptian paper which was bought by thousands within the Mediterranean basin (Realm of History, 2017).

Egypt, along with Mesopotamia and the Yellow River (current China), are believed to have been the architects of isolated civilizations. These civilizations made it necessary for the invention of items which would facilitate man’s survival. As opposed to later civilizations like the Greeks, Egyptians had no one to learn from. Everything was being done from scratch and from their imagination. They are credited for having invented mathematics, astronomy, accounting, metallurgy, surveying, medicine, paper, the lever, the ramp, mills for grinding grains, and the plough (Realm of History, 2017). These are inventions which are associated with large organized societies.

Whenever the term Egypt is mentioned, pyramids are the first things that come into people’s minds. That is because these erections were not only based on accurate mathematical calculations but have also managed to resist thousands of years of wear and tear. Ever since King Zoser put up the first pyramid between 2667-2648 BC, more rulers rushed to cement their place in the history books. Writing was an important invention by the ancient civilizations. Both Egyptians and Mesopotamians take the credit for inventing writing. Their form of writing was not as we know it today. It was based on pictograms. Along with writing was the emergence of black ink and papyrus sheets which paved the way for humanity to attempt and record situations in their everyday life. Compared to Industry 4.0, Industry 0.0 may seem as though it was a joke. The reality of the matter is that this was the most advanced technology at that time and helped make life easier (Ancient Egypt).

Industry 1.0: Mechanization, Water Power and Steam Power

Mechanization refers to the shift from using hand or animals for work to doing the same task using machinery. The water wheel is among the earliest attempts to achieve mechanization. It dates back to the Roman period where it was used for lifting irrigation water and grinding grain. In 31 AD, Chinese used water-powered bellows on blast furnaces.

Clock makers played an important role in the mechanization process. They came up with some of the most complex mechanical devices known to man. In order to be able to make clocks and even repair them when they get bad, the clock makers developed machine tools such as screw and gear machines. Due to such advances, clocks were ranked as the leading mass-produced items in 1830 (Sentryo, 2017).

Higher efficiency and lower wear-rates were achieved with better gear designs. As of 17th century, better gear designs that were based on mathematical notions emerged. French mathematician, Girard Desargues, developed the first mill with epicycloidal teeth in 1650. This was used for more than a century, undergoing regular modifications to make it better. By the 18th century, involute gears came into existence. These were more effective as meshing gears compared to those before it (Sentryo, 2017).

Whereas mechanization was a major step towards achieving a tech society, the emergence of steam engine is seen as the starting point for actual Industrial Revolution. This is a heat engine that handles mechanical work with the aid of steam as its working fluid. Steam pressure produces a force to trigger back and forth movements of a piston in a cylinder. As external combustion engines, the steam engine working fluid is separated from the combustion products. It was developed as a replacement of earlier engines which had been run by water power. (Ultron, 2018)

Industry 2.0: Mass production, Assembly line, electricity

Mass production, also referred to as continuous production or flow production, entails the production of goods on a large scale mostly on assembly lines. Assembly lines are designed in order to have machines or tools and workers organized in a sequential manner. Conveyors or motorized vehicles like gravity and fork-lifts are used for handling assemblies. Overhead cranes are used for heavy lifting. An assembly line brings about the idea of specialization in which case a single worker is allowed to handle only one operation (Desouttertools, 2015).

Together with batch production and job production, mass production is one of the three main methods of production. The term was first associated with Ford Motor Company in 1926. But long before this period, the concept of mass production had been used by the Royal Navy to make ships’ pulley blocks. The main goal was to ensure that production costs declined by yielding products in large volumes.

It seems as though mass production failed to meet the goal for which it was developed. This is because it is not only capital intensive but also energy intensive. Furthermore, the machinery required for setting up a mass production line is extremely expensive and companies can only invest in it when there is a guarantee that the product would result into high profits (Desouttertools, 2015).

Mass production would have not been possible had it not been for electricity. Prior to its discovery, water and steam engines were the only ways to make machines work. Discovered by Michael Faraday, electricity had more uses like the light bulb and the telephone. Its emergence meant that machines would run faster and workers were no longer hindered to continue operating due to nightfall darkness. Essentially, we may describe electricity as the catalyst for the success of the Industrial Revolution (Howard, 2018).

Industry 3.0: Automation, Computer and Electronics

Industry 3.0 began when the first computer was released to the market. The initial computers were not as complex as they are today. They were weirdly large, very simple, and incredibly slow. Despite all these setbacks, they provided a solid background for the creation of products and services that would never have been possible without computer technology (Grenacher, 2018).

The period when the third industrial revolution began is said to be around 1970. This is a period when the use of electronics and Information Technology had begun to gain momentum. Thanks to the development of Internet, renewable energy, and increased connectivity, there was a rapid rise in manufacturing and automation. Industry 3.0 is basically characterized by the introduction of automated systems to the assembly line so that human tasks would be performed more efficiently (Loughlin, 2018). In as much as automated systems had been installed, human intervention and input was still required.

The third industrial revolution was the most significant up to this date and it almost entirely changed the world around us. The most significant changes were recorded in the manufacturing sector where they made it possible for the attainment of accuracy and precision as Computer Numerical Controls and industrial robots became part of the production process. You could describe it as the bridge between Henry Ford’s desire to increase productivity and the current state of affairs where intelligent processes are the trend (discussed under Industry 4.0). Processes were streamlined even as automation resulted into more efficient and safer production processes.

The rapid rise of automated machinery in Industry 3.0 led to a surge in electronics and electrical components which were needed for building the products. As a result, there emerged the need for the management of cables, wires, and circuit boards within equipment manufacturing. The success of Industry 3.0 was hinged on the fact that Industry 2.0 had properly prepared it for this state. The prior Industrial Revolution had introduced superior electrical technology of the time which allowed for machine sophistication and greater production. Countries would then use this to compete against each other (Supplychaingamechanger).

Unlike past Industrial Revolutions, Industry 3.0 succeeded because of collaboration rather than isolation. The same collaboration ideologies were transferred to Industry 4.0.

What is industry 4.0?

This Industry is characterized by connected systems, better storage systems, and smart machines. The connected systems facilitate free exchange of information which can be used to trigger actions without the need for human intervention. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a platform that is used to make exchange of information a possibility. IIoT is a sub-system of Internet of Things (IoT) that we typically associate with connected home devices like smartphones, washing machines, entertainment systems, and the alarm system (Marr, 2018).

Industry 4.0 is often defined in the realm of ‘smart factory’. In this industry, there are some key elements that one ought to take note of:

  • Cognitive computing – the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies.
  • Cloud computing – most associated with storage data on the ‘Cloud’. The cloud is another fancy name for the Internet.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) – networks that are inter-connected such that there is free exchange of information.
  • Cyber physical system – integration of networking, computation, and physical processes with the overall goal of controlling a physical process via feedback and ability to adapt in real-time.

Industry 4.0 is already here with us. It is no longer a future technology. Even though work is still being done to further refine it and make it sustainable, there are numerous high-tech enterprises which have adopted the industry’s technologies into their systems. During such adoption, there are certain design principles which are placed into consideration:

  • Inter-connection: The overall goal of Industry 4.0 is to ensure that everything in the factory is placed under some kind of mesh. That is, the machines, sensors, devices, and people must be connected for easy communication. This inter-connection is achieved through the Internet of Things (IoT) or Industrial IoT.
  • Decentralized decisions: The idea that CPS devices must be able to independently make decisions and perform tasks. All decision-making is supposed to happen autonomously.
  • Technical assistance: Assistance systems are used to support humans in their daily activities. It also entails CPS physically supporting staff in carrying out tasks that could be said to be too exhausting, unpleasant, or unsafe for humans.
  • Information transparency: Operators in Industry 4.0 are expected to have access to tremendous amounts of useful information that they can rely on while making decisions. Thanks to inter-connectivity, collection of information is simplified, which may facilitate innovation.

The emergence of 5G technology is central to the growth of Industry 4.0. But then, such high-tech solutions have motivated some researchers to try and shift the industry towards Industry 5.0. Whereas the focus of Industry 4.0 is all about the emergence of smart machines, Industry 5.0 seeks to ensure that humans are not completely eliminated out of the industrial framework. It is based on the idea that man and machines can be reconciled to work jointly, merging the benefits introduced by the two facets for increased productivity (Marr, 2018).

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