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What is Industrial Revolution 4.0?

Va Sonyka / Khmer Times Share:

THE Industrial Revolution 4.0, a term floated in recent years, means that many aspects of our lifestyles are getting more convenient with help of robotics and Artificial Intelligence (or AI). In an optimistic way, Industrial Revolution 4.0 is a future innovation that is building up to deal with lack of human resource (like human labour) in some skills.

Industrial Revolution 4.0, according to the ‘Platform Industry 4.0’, is defined as “the intelligent networking of machines and processes in industry with the aid of information and communication technology”.

According to Cambodia Development Center, German engineer and pioneer Klaus Schwab believes that the fourth industrial revolution has been in progress since the beginning of the 21st century, in which it builds upon the digital foundation of the third industrial revolution (*see Factbox).

Indeed, Industry 4.0 is the fusion of digitalization with traditional industrial processes. This leads to intelligent value chains and a product lifecycle of: development, manufacturing, assembly, product delivery and maintenance and recycling.

Despite the many innovations of Industry 4.0, many countries in the world are concerned about the replacement of humans with robots. The general fear is that many jobs will be ‘stolen’ from humans as the Industrial Revolution 4.0 rolls out where repetitious jobs like on a car assemblyline will not need human labour.

Tan Monivisal, a training and outreach coordinator of Cambodia Development Center wrote in an aide-memoire issued in June that “Many countries are preparing for the 4th Industrial Revolution to make sure their societies can seize the opportunities and benefits provided by the revolution rather than facing the danger(s).”

Meantime, the pros and cons of Industrial Revolution 4.0 is not affecting the current stream of humanity yet, as in Cambodia’s garment, footwear and agricultural businesses. But the future of Industrial Revolution 4.0 is relentlessly approaching, and every country including Cambodia is pushing its human resources harder to upgrade their traditional knowledge and skills. Or be rendered irrelevant, with the spectre of joblessness.

Industrial Revolution 1.0: From 1760 to 1840, due to railway construction and invention of the steam engine, which drove the era of mechanical production (factories, not cottage industries).

Industrial Revolution 2.0: Started in late 19th Century into early 20th Century, with introduction of electricity and the assembly line of the automotive industry by Henry Ford (1913); resulting in faster production.

Industrial Revolution 3.0: The 1960s was changed by semiconductors, mainframe computers (1960s), personal computers (1970s, 1980s) and the Internet (1990s).

Industrial Revolution 4.0: Also known as ‘Industry 4.0’, is the era of digitalization..The term originated from Hanover Messe 2011 and was incorporated in German high-tech strategy. Much is attributed to Klaus Schwab, a German engineer who founded the World Economic Forum. Two years later, the Industry 4.0 Platform (central network for digital transformation) was set up to make it work. It is characterized by 4 physical and digital trends: 1 Autonomous motor vehicles (cars, trucks, drones, aircraft, water vessels); 2 3D printing (medical implants); 3 Advanced robotics (agri to health care); 4 New materials (graphene).

What is “IoT or the Internet of Things? Schwab calls it the largest digital megatrend that bridges the physical and virtual worlds.” Hence, the networking of people, objects and machines with the Internet leads to new business models. In conclusion, smart systems (like the phone) of sensors and devices connect objects of the physical material world with virtual networks. Digital production thus depends on Smart Systems (Industry 4.0 = Smart factory, Smart products, Smart services).

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