Industry 4.0: Industrial opportunities and challenges

Navigating Disruptive Technologies of Industry 4.0 in Major Technological Sectors

The main factors behind the rapid adoption of Industrial revolution 4.0 (4IR) can be considered as the emergence of disruptive technologies such as hyper connectivity, artificial intelligence, virtual/augmented/mixed reality, robotics, blockchain, big data and 3D printing. These all together have the potential to transform social, economic, and political systems, often in unpredictable ways. Compared to the previous three Industrial Revolutions, 4IRs growing pace and depth of technology will have a revolutionary impact on a wide range of industries. The 4IR phenomenon is a global one that affects all aspects of life, including individual lifestyles, communities, and even political systems. It is important to keep in mind that the 4IR will have a significant effect on employment. According to a McKinsey Global research, automation will eliminate up to 800 million jobs by 2030. It is beneficial to include this as an additional factor impacting 4IR, because with the advent of new technologies, new niche professions will be created, and there be a creation of millions of employments in the newer industries.

The Importance of Make in India Transition to the future of Industry 4.0

Govt. of India is providing a high thrust for the Make in India movement. Digitization of offices across the nation coupled with data integration and orchestration can be implemented as the next step to achieve further automation. There are new efforts like the Smart Manufacturing Council, National Skill Development Corporation etc. which are Govt. initiatives to upskill the workforce capabilities for sustainable transformation. Many private manufacturing companies are also on the verge of adopting the Smart Factory concepts in India. The pandemic also spiralled the adoption of digital technologies in the country and worked in favour of removing digital phobia.

The youth of India can now dream to become the driving force behind leading the 4IR in India if they can take advantage of the opportunity presented by the beginning of the 4IR alongside the Government initiatives. The youth have the potential to lead the different technologies that makeup 4IR, including 3D printing, robots, blockchain, and artificial intelligence.

In order for Indian youth to advance with the demands of the workplace, swift upskilling with these new technologies is necessary, especially at the higher secondary school levels. To support this in terms of education, a curriculum modification would be necessary.

Expected Difficulties in deploying the technologies inherent in Industry 4.0

The core of Industry 4.0 is the Internet of things (IoT) which allows connection of machines, products, systems and people. So the biggest challenge will be to develop a strategy for all the actors involved in the entire value chain, to reach a consensus on the right architecture and address all the security issues before implementation begins.

Since 4IR is being shaped largely by the technical integration of Cyber-Physical Systems into manufacturing processes, as well as the use of the Internet of Things, the creation of a seamless virtual environment built through computer simulation of items and actions in the actual world, with a network of objects and systems interacting with each other over the internet with a designated address and Services in industrial processes will be a challenge the techies have to overcome based on the actual implementation environment

For example, consider the progress of traditional manufacturing towards Industry 4.0 with four major components like vertical networking of smart manufacture schemes; horizontal integration through a new generation of global value chain networks; through-life engineering across the entire value chain; and enabling exponential technologies across all these components. The challenge would be like the one described above since the manufacturing industry is still not having any single solution which will have all the components exactly meeting their immediate requirements, they will have to either customize or develop solutions around the various bits and pieces available in the market today.

Another anticipated challenge is getting the right skilled resources both for development as well as implementation, there is acute shortage in the market today who would be able to conceive and manage the entire solution from design to finish of the implementation.

Lastly, the aspect of data and privacy and security, this does open up a whole new avenue and threat vector and its extremely important to design security frameworks that go hand in hand with Ind 4.0 rollouts and landscape.

Future Trends and Prospects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The first aspect I want to highlight is that many of the innovations linked with 4IR are still in their infancy, but they are sooner than later expected to reach a high point in their development and a fusion of technologies across the physical, digital and biological world are expected to happen at a much faster pace than what is anticipated.

To again take the example from the manufacturing industries, besides Smart factories, there will be supply side surprises as well as long term gains in transportation and communication expenses, logistics and global supply chains will become more predictable, cost of trade will be lower, all this in turn driving enhanced economic growth.

What we should be concerned is the global nature of this revolution, it will affect and be influenced by all countries, economies, sectors and people. So there should be forums or platforms which would facilitate multistake holder cooperation across academic, industry, social, political and national boundaries. The faster such platforms are going to be formed, transformations can be easily managed, otherwise there will be huge delays.

Those geographies which are able to adapt to the new trends in the 4IR are expected to move at a much faster pace, 4IR is a reality and no one can any longer push it aside and think about progress and growth into the future.