Industry 4.0: How Manufacturing, IT, and Engineering Converge 

Industry 4.0: How Manufacturing, IT, and Engineering Converge 

Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, is an up-and-coming term used to describe the increasing usage of automation in many aspects of work. It is also characterized by the employment of technology called smart machines to create advanced factories.

Although this technology can make production more efficient, it needs little to no human intervention causing issues for employees like displacement of jobs.

 

Smart Factories of the Future 

Processes involved in manufacturing are enhanced and streamlined using principles of engineering and informational technology. When merged together, these industries result in the creation of smart machines like IoT, cloud computing, machine learning, cybersecurity, and AI.

It is necessary to merge more than one industry to create facilities that use technology to optimize production. Smart factories are now described as an intersection between manufacturing, information technology (IT), and engineering.¹

 

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT are physical pieces of machinery that are embedded with sensors and software that connect them to other advanced devices. Through their established connectivity, data can easily be collected, exchanged, and analyzed with the help of the Internet.

Some examples of IoT in an average household are smart watches and home devices like smart televisions or refrigerators.

 

Cloud Computing and Data Analytics

Considering the vast amount of information available online, cloud computing and data analytics serve a great purpose during the fourth industrial revolution.

These interconnected technologies have the capability of safekeeping huge amounts of information. Aside from this, they can also organize and analyze data using sophisticated tools and algorithms. It is greatly helpful in industries like IT since it can efficiently store data, software, and systems digitally without needing any physical servers that take up space.

 

Machine Learning

This type of smart machine allows computers and application systems to improve their performance through learning and observing patterns. It uses algorithms that analyze data based on statistical models and established trends.

Typically, machine learning uses artificial intelligence (AI) to collect, process, and predict data that can help enhance machine performance and user experience. For example, patterns of machines on the manufacturing floor can easily identify and prevent problems like equipment failure.

 

Cybersecurity

With the widespread usage of technology since the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution, the safekeeping of our identity and information has also become a crucial concern.

Cybersecurity has become an important smart machine to prevent information theft and protect data and systems. It is often used by IT departments from different companies to block malicious activities using antivirus software and internet firewalls.

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Possibly the most widespread technology created by smart factories, AI is a form of tech equipped with the ability to mimic human intelligence. They can also perform tasks originally done only by humans such as generating literature and works of art based on a database of information given to them.

The use of AI in specific fields like manufacturing has resulted in increased efficiency since these smart machines have a lesser margin of error compared to human performance. Other industries like engineering also use this smart machine in improving the design and quality of their products.

 

Advantages of Industry 4.0 

The fourth industrial revolution is transforming the world of work as we know it. As it continues to rise in popularity, Industry 4.0 brings a variety of advantages for employees and employers alike.

 

Increased Efficiency and Productivity

Through the usage of advanced technologies like AI and automation, repetitive and time-consuming tasks will be removed from your daily responsibilities. This means no more stressing over strict, detail-oriented labor.

Instead, you can focus on work that cannot be taken over by machines. These value-adding tasks may range from complex problem-solving to creating innovative ideas that require a human touch.

 

Optimized Process of Work

Employers would have access to applications like Digital Twin that create identical replicas of supply chains and production lines. These can be used to analyze the current steps and processes that employees undertake so any parts that cause friction can be identified.

Once these are known, companies can work to solve issues and problems that are present. This can lead to smoother operations, consistent maintenance, and fewer struggles for employees.

 

Enhanced Safety and Protection

The integration of smart machines such as robotics, automation, and monitoring systems provide workers with improved safety and protection in their working environments.

The current Industrial Revolution gives companies the option to use advanced technologies to handle dangerous tasks and reduce human involvement in hazardous projects. It also gives way to consistent monitoring and regularly conducting preventive measures.

 

Top Three Challenges of Industry 4.0 

Just like every other industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 comes with both advantages and disadvantages. There are still challenges that employees come face-to-face with regardless of their nature of work. Some examples are as follows:

 

1. Evolution of Roles and Skill Sets

There is a big shift regarding the part employees play within a company given the rapid innovation of technology and machinery. Their nature of work evolves along with their job titles, role descriptions, qualifications, and skill set they are required to master.

Read More: The Job Title Trap – How to Find the Right Fit 

This evolution of skills and competencies serves as a challenge for employees who are constantly trying to adjust to the changes happening in the world of work. People may find themselves needing to learn new information and gain new skills through available opportunities like seminars and training.

For example, the second industrial revolution asked people to work in assembly lines so it’s important for them to be quick and detail oriented. They must also have the patience and focus needed to continuously manufacture the same product throughout the day.

On the other hand, Industry 4.0 relies on smart machines to automate product creation and manufacturing. This means employees have new roles to fill such as an automation technician or production supervisor to ensure quality products.

 

2. Job Displacement Due to Smart Tech

What will happen to employees who cannot handle the shift brought upon by the new industry? What if a person cannot manage to change the nature of their work from providing manual labor to handling technology? This is where the challenge of job displacement takes place.

The automation of repetitive and time-consuming tasks is definitely helpful in improving the efficiency and overall productivity of a company. But from the perspective of workers, many jobs are replaced since one smart machine can manufacture more than twice the number one person can.

This forces people to search for different roles elsewhere since they can’t compete with technology in fields like manufacturing and engineering.

 

3. Ethical Implications

The use of smart machines like AI, IoT, and data analytics is fairly new so ethical considerations are not yet fully established especially with regard to the data and privacy of both employees and customers.

For employees, advanced technologies can be used to gather information like IP addresses, locations, and phone numbers in real time without any regard for barriers or exceptions. Take the issue mentioned in Business News Daily.²

Some companies require their employees to wear smart devices that note down their current activities. This can lead to privacy breaches and other ethical implications.

On the other hand, employees working in Industry 4.0 may also meet challenges related to the data security and privacy of their customers. It becomes a challenge for them, especially without proper training, to address issues arising while protecting customer information like their bank details and other sensitive information.

 

BE A PART OF THE WORKFORCE UNDER INDUSTRY 4.0 

If you are interested in finding work in the current industrial revolution, DAVIS Companies is here to help you form real and substantial relationships with organizations that need your expertise. Whether you prefer direct work or contract-based employment, develop your skills and practice your craft under employers that match your preference.

Here at DAVIS Companies, we are willing to go above and beyond to aid you because that’s the DAVIS way! Be sure to reach out today to begin your industrial journey!

 

References 

1 IBM. “How Industry 4.0 technologies are changing manufacturing” June 2023, https://www.ibm.com/topics/industry-4-0

2 Freedman, Max. “Spying on Your Employees? Better Understand the Law First.” Business News Daily, 29 Mar 2023, https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6685-employee-monitoring-privacy.html

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