The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Fusing physical, digital, and biological worlds

In today’s marketplace, there is little divide between the “real” world and that of the digital world…at least for the businesses who are looking to flourish during the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The concept of an “Internet of Things” (the internet-connected collection and transfer of data from devices around us) is at the center of this rapid transition.

As far back as 2008, more objects were connected to the internet than people. It’s hard to remember how we got here. Historically, technological growth has been more linear, but over the last several decades, technology has advanced exponentially. Today’s marketplace is going to leave manufacturers with two choices: to adapt with technology or to throw in the proverbial towel.

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mechanical production equipment

Division of labor, electricity, & mass production Electronics, IT, & automated production Cyber-physical →


Aspects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution:

·       3-D printing tools

·       Artificial intelligence

·       Autonomous vehicles

·       Biotechnology

·       Video based communications

·       Energy storage

·       Genetic editing

·       Virtual reality

·       Robot

[ic]s & Nano-bots

·       Omnipresent voice control

·       Smart factories

·       Nanotechnology

·       Materials science

·       Quantum computing

Undoubtedly, these new technologies, combined with seemingly endless possible configurations, can appear overwhelming to established manufacturers. However, businesses should take comfort in the fact that the hardest part of upgrading technology is in the transition. Implemented correctly, technological upgrades lead to increased customer satisfaction, greater production efficiency, better asset management, and major logistical improvements.

As an example: remote working, telecommuting, or virtual presence are vastly underutilized in the manufacturing sector. The benefits of these data-driven and connected operations are limitless. With new technology, customers, designers, and operators can share information from anywhere at any time with clients and with one another. Workers can access materials on demand and collaborate with robots and coworkers alike. Decision makers can have access to predictive data to ensure the best choice at every fork in the road well before they’ve arrived at it.

Concerns for the Future:

Interconnectedness can be an incredible tool, but it also raises a lot of security concerns. It’s imperative that manufacturers invest in Next-Generation firewalls, real-time proactive virus scanning, employee IT training, surveillance, device management, virus protection, spam filtering, and cloud based CRMs and ERPs.

However, as automation increases, this frees up labor for more specialized work. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is opening the door for highly skilled professionals to gain employment by assisting manufacturers in implementing and transitioning to better technology.

Don’t Get Attached to a Legacy System

Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum said:

“The[se] changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril. My concern, however, is that decision makers are too often caught in traditional, linear (and non-disruptive) thinking or too absorbed by immediate concerns to think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation shaping our future.”

The crucial point is that business leaders need to actively research, implement, and adapt to an ever-changing marketplace. They must learn to embrace the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” and the technologies driving it: the internet of things, work-from-anywhere, cybersecurity, and digital markets.

As Schwab put it, “The bottom line [is this]… leaders and senior executives need to understand their changing environment, challenge the assumptions of their operating teams, and relentlessly and continuously innovate.”

Learn More

On April 13th, 8:00 AM-12:00 PM, at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel, we’re discussing the best technology practices and products for regional manufacturing companies. Over 20 technology solution providers and support organizations will be present for this targeted tradeshow.

Attendance is FREE for regional industries!