For hundreds of years, we’ve been revolutionizing the way we harness the potential of materials around us to make our lives easier, and more productive. This process of creating helpful objects out of raw materials is widely known as manufacturing. So, what is the state of manufacturing now, how did we get here and what does the future hold? Let’s walk through the progression that ultimately led us to Industry 4.0.
The first major revolution for industry manufacturing occurred in 1765. Previously, the economic foundation of the world was built upon agriculture. As humans discovered how to extract and burn coal as an energy source, agriculture gave way to industry. Followed by the steam engine, which relied on the power of coal and steam, which transformed the way we could transport, trade and build things. This paved the way for large-scale industries and then created the blueprint for the first cities.
The second major revolution in industry manufacturing came in 1870. The combustion of gas and oil replaced coal and steam as the primary energy source behind production leading to another transformative breakthrough; steel. The production of steel meant that more durable, efficient structures could be built, at a lower cost. Productivity in industry manufacturing exploded with the invention of fast, cheap communication and transport, including the telegram, the telephone, the automobile, and the plane. This centralized ideas and research in a way that they never had before.
While energy and information were the locomotive of unprecedented innovation in the first and second revolution, the third industrial revolution, which occurred from 1969 onwards, was facilitated by computer and nuclear power. The computer gave rise to the robot. Given robots can perform tasks much faster and more efficiently than humans can, this fundamentally changed manufacturing yet again, setting the scene for the fourth industrial revolution.
As it unfolds before our eyes, the fourth industrial revolution known as industry 4.0, has brought about the evolution of computer systems exchanging information. Innovations like the internet, big data, augmented reality, the industrial internet of things (IIoT) have paved the way for smart manufacturing.
The true power of industry manufacturing 4.0 is that systems and devices are all interconnected and can communicate with each other. Manufacturing lines have progressed from being automated during industry 3.0 to becoming both automated and intelligent as a result of the industrial internet of things. Smart machines are capable of autonomously exchanging information on their operation, triggering actions and controlling each other independently.
This is done by utilizing thousands of IoT-enabled sensors that work in real-time and send information to a centralized server system or cloud.
The analysis of this data can then be used to not only maintain machines more efficiently, but also drastically improve decision-making in real-time, inform product development, anticipate inventory based on production and increase machine uptime. The internet of things is the first step towards a truly globally connected system that will ultimately make manufacturing greener, smarter, safer and more efficient.
Industry manufacturing companies can gain a competitive edge in a transforming global landscape when they take advantage of the Industry 4.0 technologies. Manufacturing industry companies need to make strategic and incremental steps towards IoT-based approach today to ensure their systems are more agile, efficient and reliable than their competitors. Find out how PTC can help to prepare you for the future today.