The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0): Intelligent Manufacturing


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As the world is pivoting away from the third industrial revolution, what will we face in terms of running business, producing products, offering services, and living our lives?

The last industrial revolution was driven by striking advances in electronics and information technology having achieved enormous economic prosperity and manufacturing automation. So what is the fourth industrial revolution and what does it encompass? Is it gravitational pull?

The First to Third Industrial Revolutions

The first industrial revolution in the late 18th century used steam engines, which flourished the textile industry and other mechanization systems; the second industrial revolution in the final third of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries introduced electrically-powered mass production, creating steel industry, and telegraph and railroad systems. The invention of transistors in 1947 led the dawn of the digital age and information technology, thus the third industrial revolution has offered phenomenal applications of computers and electronic gadgets since the 1970s.

The third industrial revolution propelled the global economic development and the manufacturing advancement by utilizing information and automation technology, making the beginning and the continued progress of the vibrant and fast-paced digital era. As most of us have lived through (and are living in) this era, smart electronics has been proliferating and relentlessly moving toward a higher level of wearability, connectivity and mobility.

Five words speak for the essence of electronics: smart, mobility, connectivity, wearability, and innovation. Innovation has been the name of the game. It spurs an unprecedented growth of exponential technology during the period of the third industrial revolution.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The genesis of the term, fourth industrial revolution, also dubbed Industry 4.0, was rooted in the German federal government’s high-tech strategy in 2011. Industry 4.0 will leverage the Internet, digital technologies and quantum sciences to drive further into autonomous, intelligent cyber-physical systems.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of SMT Magazine.

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