Industry 4.0: Hopes, Fears, Reality, and Future

Dmitri Koteshov
Digital Content Manager
September 4, 2018

Just recently, there’s been some serious talking about the industrial revolution in the community. Will Industry 4.0 get rid of overproduction in the world? What is the role of the blockchain technology in the new industrial future? Qualitative changes in production processes outlined under the general name of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (or Industry 4.0) in 2011, serve as a means of increasing competitiveness in industries through the enhanced integration of cyber-physical systems into factory processes.

Jokes aside – this kind of language does attract investors, scientists, and politicians en masse. But what lies behind such abstract definitions for the general public? And how will this paradigm affect our lives at the household level? The incertitude in future is increasingly taking shape of a serious concern among professionals across the industries.

Imagine the future world: robot workers at assembly lines, driver-free taxis, trucks or ships, robots-translators and even self-learning artificial intelligence instead of a lawyer or judge…Human used to compete with robotic systems in the field of manual labor’s productivity, but now Industry 4.0 transfers the competition to the intellectual domain as well. No wonder that some people see it as a danger. Besides, everything is ready to take off as the technology has all the components of creating a global consumer euphoria. However, instead of a hypothetical aggressive uprising feared by some tech gurus, intelligent machines can lead the progressive humanity to the state of consumer nirvana – the “supreme” goal of the existence of an individual. Sad as that.

Search engines and social networks have opened the gateway to the world of Industry 4.0

Nowadays, search engines and social media algorithms know more about our tastes and preferences than our friends or relatives do. However, from the point of view of Industry 4.0 advocates, all this hype goes beyond just targeted advertising, personalized content or even the “surveillance” reality supported by some lovers of conspiracy plots.

Smart devices in the form of sleep trackers and fitness bracelets equipped with pulse meters and other sensors constantly analyze us by the variety of various indicators. The gadget knows everything about our activity, tastes, and requests. The device has a whole story to tell about us: how many hours we sleep, where and how we spend our spare time, how many miles we walk and how many calories we burn or consume. No attending physician has access to such a detailed level of comprehensive information about a patient. The only concern for businesses worldwide is to adjust the industry to the needs of consumers.

Customization of mass production.

Industry 4.0 contains an ideal format for interaction between the manufacturer and the buyer due to its qualitatively new approach to production. The concept is capable of providing a mass production sector with the necessary flexibility for customization of a particular product without losing the industrial level of productivity.

This new reality will solve the main problem of the modern economy – mass overproduction. For instance, the successful experience of using Amazon Dash Button makes possible to look more broadly at the interrelationship of industrial production and a specific consumer.

As for now, the signal from the Buy button is sent to an online store. In the concept of Industry 4.0, it goes directly to the enterprise without intermediaries or middlemen. The light industry is the pioneer in creating networks of machines that are able to autonomously change production templates in accordance with the need without losing efficiency.

The industrial knitting machine called SHIMA SEIKI is the perfect example. New models of equipment are integrated with SDS-ONE APEX3 3D systems covering the product path from the design stage to marketing promotion. The APEX3 system is oriented to so-called “mass customization”. In other words, it’s a production of goods with the opportunity to change something according to the wishes of a specific consumer.  Even though the idea of ​​the Industry 4.0 is still being formed (both in the society and investment circles), there are no doubts that the principle of the assembly line that has remained unchanged for many decades will be radically revised, along with the interrelations between suppliers, and consumers.

In the modern consumer society, Industry 4.0 is regarded as the production continuation of the Internet of things. After the completion of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the “Internet of everything” will merge production, consumption, and consumers into a single organism.

But a single entity is exposed to common threats. In an interconnected system, a virus or hacker attack does not affect the operating system of a computer but poses a serious threat to the security of common data and databases. This way, the most acute problem and constraining development factor for Industry 4.0 is security. Along with the convenience – meaning the access from anywhere and for everyone – comes the threat of high vulnerability the industry should deal with in order to progress.

Blockchain and its role

Keeping in mind all these concerns, the priority task lies in the creation of highly efficient networks and secure data centers. Facing a massive amount of data breaches (remember the recent scandal with Facebook?), the industry should come up with a comprehensive evaluation of our current management and manufacturing systems.

And that’s the place and time where the blockchain technology with its powers steps in. All in all, it’s only beneficial for both businesses and customers. Blockchain will deal with substantial chunks of data migrated over to computer systems for its storage resulting in free-up time, space, and energy of these systems. This new reality will stimulate instant decision making on both the individuals part and the systems end.

Again, the integration of plants, strategic enterprises and life support systems of smart cities with the Internet makes them vulnerable to cyber attacks or even futuristic Internet-based wars. The remote access to production processes in industrial or energy companies makes possible to manipulate the production protocol or fully paralyze the work at the facility. This becomes a national-scale threat since the consequences may turn into a humanitarian and/or technogenic catastrophe.

In the world of Industry 4.0, the economy is an important component of security in terms of identity and user verification. Blockchain can be successfully integrated into the management of supply chains, transactions, financial and notarial operations. Even if the blockchain technology has gained popularity due to the cryptocurrency craze, it is likely to be the basis of Industry 4.0 defining many operations and processes. And this is much more promising than just investing in bitcoins.

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