Industry 4.0

Historical photo of old factory with smoke coming up from chimneys

We are all aware of the original industrial revolution that occurred back in the 1770’s, but did you know that there have been two more since then? We are fast approaching another!

The 1st industrial revolution was fueled by the use of steam & water power, and gave us the ability to produce goods that were once handmade in mass quantities. This transformed rural societies into urban and industrialized ones. It was an amazing transformation, and gave us the ability to do things that no one thought possible; and caused the growth of industries such as coal, iron, railroads, and textiles.

The 2nd industrial revolution occurred from about 1870-1914. During this time there was an expansion of electricity, petroleum, and steel. This revolution is often defined by the beginning of mass production in manufacturing and consumer goods. We saw railroads expand across the U.S., and shortly after, automobiles were being manufactured on an assembly line and gaining popularity.

The 3rd revolution began around 1970 with the introduction of computers and electronics. These computers, and the growing technologies associated with them, were now being utilized in factories to automate many of the processes inside machines. This is where we see the 4th industrial revolution begin to emerge.

As times are changing and technology is developing, the computers that were introduced into factories are evolving. Computers that needed a human operator behind them may not be needed much longer. Industry 4.0 is all about computers communicating with one another to improve efficiency without human involvement. This could mean the introduction of “smart factories”, where all of the machines troubleshoot on their own, and communicate with each other to identify problems before they occur. We are still in the beginning phase of Industry 4.0, so much so that some people believe it might not even happen. However, it is important to look at the evolution of technology in order to utilize it to our advantage in the future.


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