The fourth industrial revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the term that describes the increasing digitalization of industrial production processes and their connectivity. It is important to distinguish this term from digitalization as such, which describes the spread of digital and automated processes/technologies in society as a whole. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is rooted in the Internet, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and technical progress in general.

Brunel gives you the right experts

Dovetailing IT technologies and production technologies opens the door to new and innovative services and products. At the same time, however, the Fourth Industrial Revolution poses numerous challenges and hurdles for companies keen to develop technical standards and norms that enable communication between humans and machines. Brunel helps you master these challenges by providing you with qualified and experienced experts. Our specialists from the fields of data science, electrical engineering, automation technology, robotics and production technology possess in-depth knowledge and bring the necessary experience to make your next Fourth Industrial Revolution project a complete success. Go here to meet our experts and explore our service portfolio.

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Digitalization has long since become a success factor in the economy. Intelligent connectivity between people and machines marks another milestone in industrial production. It is no longer just the production plants themselves that are connected to each other, but also suppliers, logistical services, manufacturing, customers and all adjacent areas. This combination can drive immense progress in terms of ordering processes, supply chains and information channels, for instance. To stay successful, companies should familiarize themselves with these developments. The following article therefore takes a closer look at the Fourth Industrial Revolution, explain such issues as the technical building blocks on which this revolution is based and the benefits and challenges associated with it.

On what building blocks is the Fourth Industrial Revolution based?

What are known as embedded systems are at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These are hardware and software components in the form of electronic computers or computers that are embedded in a technical context. The computer then takes over various functions, such as monitoring or controlling technical requirements. Using broadband or radio frequencies, the individual systems are connected via the Internet, which is also referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) or the Internet of Services (IoS) in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This makes it possible for the individual components to communicate with each other in real time. The fusion of physical components with the IoT creates what are known as cyber physical systems (CPS). Via sensors on these systems, physical data can be collected and processed via cloud computing or big data technologies, and all crucial production processes can be continuously monitored and evaluated. In this context, experts also speak of "cyber physical production systems" (CPPS). Modern information and communication technologies (ICT) are used to manage and control the CPPS, thereby facilitating connectivity between people, machines and resources. This gives rise to the smart factory, which, with its new type of production logic and the value creation networks that have emerged, is giving rise to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Which areas does the Fourth Industrial Revolution cover?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is already happening in automotive engineering and its downstream suppliers, in mechanical and plant engineering, in the chemical and electrical industries, in information and communication technology (ICT) and in agriculture. In mechanical and plant engineering, the ability to harness enormous volumes of operating, status and environmental data becomes possible can be used to design more efficient production. In the case of the electrical industry, complex production processes can be monitored via Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, thus ensuring greater transparency and lower storage costs. One of the primary users is the automotive industry. In addition to its applications in production and logistics, the Fourth Industrial Revolution can also become part of vehicles. It can contribute to and facilitate road safety. And it can improve the management of spare parts and their maintenance.

How is the Fourth Industrial Revolution changing business models?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing existing business models and creating new ones. In general, companies are increasingly relying on platform-based business models. Platforms create more efficient ways of communication between suppliers, customers and other stakeholders that adapt to the accelerated and automated production processes. One new business model in connection with the Fourth Industrial Revolution is, for example, the pay-per-use concept. Here, for example, a plant manufacturer connects their supplier to a customer and charges only for the use of their plant instead of selling it. New business models are also emerging in the provision of the basic technical technologies – such as robotics and AI – that underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

What competitive advantages does the Fourth Industrial Revolution create?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution creates competitive advantages in particular for manufacturing companies. More individual, flexible and efficient production processes replace rigid production lines. Modern IT systems and networks enable companies to respond quickly to individual customer requests without the costly and time-consuming need for extensive replanning. In addition, algorithms calculate the optimal use of materials and can reduce resource wastage to a minimum. A typical example of this is industrial-scale 3D printing, where countless components are produced at once in a single printing process. This has a favorable effect on both investment and material costs. The most important competitive advantages at a glance:

  • Faster production
  • More effective use of materials
  • Efficient value chains
  • Superior customer orientation
  • Faster identification of weak points/sources of error

What challenges are associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The biggest challenges to implementation are the heavy investment and the unclear economic benefits. In addition, companies still see many uncertainties regarding solutions associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and are therefore reluctant to move on to the detailed planning stage. With regard to workforce qualifications, companies also have to face numerous hurdles at this point. Not only production employees need to be trained, but all employees along the value chain – from production to development to sales – are called on to acquire the appropriate knowledge and skills. Another, often more important, challenge is to get the workforce to buy into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. On this level, fears must be allayed and advantages must be clearly presented. Other challenges include:

  • IT security
  • Establishing standards (e.g. for interfaces)

What job profiles have been created by the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Like digitalization in general, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is creating new job profiles and changing existing ones. IT-related professions in particular, as well as those involving research and development, are increasingly dominating the labor market in this area. New job profiles that are increasingly in demand are smart service specialists, automation technology experts for robotics, IoT solution architects and data scientists. As industrial processes become more and more connected, IT security experts are also increasingly in demand to identify critical security loopholes and thus prevent cyberattacks.

How Brunel can support you with your next project

Shorter lead times, greater flexibility and increased productivity thanks to fully connected production: Together with our experienced experts, we will help make a resounding success of your next Fourth Industrial Revolution project. Our data analysts, automation engineers and software engineers are well-versed in evaluating gigantic volumes of data. They are also skilled in robot programming, the creation of software for control technology and dealing with the Internet of Things. Our production engineers, on the other hand, have an in-depth knowledge of planning and development, as well as the ability to realize assembly and manufacturing processes. They also possess specialist knowledge in the use and handling of digital production systems and production technologies.

To find the right experts for your project, we first obtain a comprehensive overview of your project. We want to know what tools, experience, qualifications and language skills our experts should have. In this way, we can ensure that our specialists develop Fourth Industrial Revolution solutions that fully meet your individual quality requirements.

Subsequently, our talent scouts and account managers go in search of suitable candidates via various channels and networks. A proactive and forward-looking approach to candidates as well as our global network of technical and IT experts are of benefit to us in this context. Would you like to put our recruiting expertise to the test? Go here to find out more.