With almost all industries moving to digitalize their operations, the manufacturing sector is catching up. This results in manufacturers moving beyond Industry 4.0 to go towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
For context, the term “Industry 4.0” refers to digital technologies — such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and big data analytics — applied in factories and plants to make the business more efficient and effective.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution extends to more than that. It implies significant shifts driven by these technologies and their usage — like having new ways of working, communicating, and doing business.
Many companies are experimenting with innovative technologies. German vehicle manufacturer Volkswagen, for example, turned to AI-powered generative design in 2019 to make its 1962 Microbus lighter, greener, and quick to manufacture.
Businesses are seeing the need for compressed transformation to remain relevant and resilient in their industries. This includes the transformation of a core piece of their business – manufacturing.
In an article written by VentureBeat, three developments push most manufacturers toward the next digital frontier:
- COVID-19 pandemic. Companies had to shift to intelligent digital workers to survive during the pandemic. During this period, 48% of organizations invested in cloud-enabled tools and technologies while 47% purchased digital collaboration tools for their remote workforce.
- ‘Smart’ devices. Physical products which used to be “dumb” are now “smart” due to advanced software that controls their functionality and features. Market research firm IoT analytics expects that by 2025, more than 27 billion connected devices generating, sending, and computing information will be used all over the planet.
- Sustainability. Sustainability is a crucial digitalization driver in manufacturing as there is an existing pressure to be more environment-friendly these days. According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), impact investing—or the aim to generate a positive impact for society along with strong financial returns—is growing and could total as much as US$26 trillion.
New technologies have always been available. And with the challenging last two years, they have proven their worth in any industry.
Realizing the importance of digitization — especially in manufacturing — could help global markets go beyond the efficiency and effectiveness of industry 4.0 and make way for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.