What is Fourth Industrial Revolution?

As a result of growing interconnectedness and intelligent automation, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, theorizes fast change to technology, industries, and social patterns and processes in the 21st century.

The blending of technologies like artificial intelligence, gene editing, and advanced robotics that blur the boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds is a component of this period of industrial development. Through continuing automation of conventional manufacturing and industrial methods, leveraging contemporary smart technologies, extensive machine-to-machine communication (M2M), and the internet of things, major changes are occurring in how the global production and supply network functions (IoT). Increased automation, better communication and self-monitoring, and the deployment of intelligent technologies that can evaluate and diagnose problems without human involvement are all outcomes of this integration.

First Industrial Revolution

Through the utilization of steam power and water power, manual manufacturing techniques were replaced by machines during the First Industrial Revolution. This refers to the era between 1760 and 1820, or 1840 in Europe and the United States, because the adoption of new technology took a long time. Although it also had societal implications, such as a growing middle class, it had an impact on the iron industry, agriculture, and mining, as well as textile production, which was the first to embrace such innovations. At the time, it also had an impact on British industry.

Second Industrial Revolution

The period between 1871 and 1914, commonly referred to as the Technological Revolution, was marked by the construction of massive railroad and telegraph networks that facilitated the speedier exchange of people, ideas, and electricity. The contemporary production line was developed in factories thanks to increased electricity. It was a time of significant economic development and productivity gains, which together with the replacement of many manufacturing workers by machines led to an increase in unemployment.

Third Industrial Revolution

After the end of the two world wars, there was a pause in industrialization and technical development compared to earlier eras, which led to the Third Industrial Revolution, also known as the Digital Revolution. A decade later, the creation of the Z1 computer, which made use of binary floating-point numbers and Boolean logic, marked the start of increasingly sophisticated digital innovations. The supercomputer was the next important advancement in communication technology, and with its widespread usage in the manufacturing process, equipment started to replace the need for human labor.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution’s applications

  • Mobile devices
  • Internet of things (IoT) platforms
  • Location detection technologies (electronic identification)
  • Advanced human-machine interfaces
  • Authentication and fraud detection
  • Smart sensors
  • Big analytics and advanced processes
  • Multilevel customer interaction and customer profiling
  • Augmented reality/ wearables
  • On-demand availability of computer system resources
  • Data visualization and triggered “live” training


Mainly these technologies can be summarized into four major components, defining the term “Industry 4.0” or “smart factory”

  • Cyber-physical systems
  • Internet of things (IoT)
  • On-demand availability of computer system resources (e.g. cloud computing)
  • Cognitive computing

Smart factory

The concept of a “Smart Factory” is a production setting in which manufacturing facilities and logistical systems are set up without the need for human interaction.

The Smart Factory is not just a concept anymore. While several model factories illustrate what is technically possible, numerous businesses have already demonstrated how the Smart Factory works in practice.

Cyber-physical systems that connect with one another via the Internet of Things and Services are the technical basis of the Smart Factory, or intelligent factory. The data transfer between the product and the production line is a crucial step in this process. This makes it possible for the Supply Chain to be connected much more effectively and for any manufacturing environment to be better organized.

The “smart factory” is fostered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Cyber-physical systems control physical processes, simulate the real world, and make decentralized choices inside modularly built smart factories. Cyber-physical systems communicate and work together with people and other cyber-physical systems across the internet of things in real time, both inside and between organizational services provided and utilized by value chain players.

Predictive maintenance

Due to the utilization of technology and IoT sensors, Industry 4.0 may also provide predictive maintenance. Machine owners may undertake cost-effective maintenance and plan it in advance before the equipment fails or is damaged thanks to predictive maintenance, which can spot maintenance concerns as they arise. An organization in Los Angeles, for instance, might determine whether a piece of equipment in Singapore was operating at an unusually high or low temperature. Then, they might determine whether it has to be fixed.

3D printing

The use of 3D printing technology is thought to be heavily dependent on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The fact that 3D printing can create a wide variety of geometric forms and can streamline the product design process are two benefits of 3D printing for industry. Additionally, it is comparatively eco-friendly. It can help cut down on lead times and overall production costs in low-volume production. Additionally, it can improve flexibility, save storage expenses, and aid the organization in adopting a mass customisation business plan. Additionally, manufacturing spare parts in 3D and installing them locally may be very helpful for minimizing supplier reliance and supply wait times.

The rate of change is the deciding element. One may identify a qualitative shift in the pace of development that ushers in a new historical period by relating the rate of technical advancement to socioeconomic and infrastructure changes that follow.

Smart sensors

For Industry 4.0 and other “smart” megatrends including smart manufacturing, smart mobility, smart homes, smart cities, and smart factories, sensors and instrumentation are the driving forces of innovation.

Smart sensors are gadgets that provide data and enable additional functionality, such as self-auditing and self-configuration as well as condition monitoring of intricate operations. They greatly simplify installation work by having wireless communication capabilities, which aids in realizing a dense array of sensors.

Numerous experts have recognized and acknowledged the significance of sensors, measurement science, and smart assessment for Industry 4.0, which has already resulted in the declaration “Industry 4.0: nothing goes without sensor systems.”

The implementation of complete systems is, however, constrained by a few problems, including time synchronization errors, data loss, and handling huge volumes of gathered data. Further restrictions on these features represent the battery power. Smart watches are one example of how smart sensors are being integrated into electronic devices. In smart watches, sensors collect data from the user’s movement, process it, and then give the user information about how many steps they have taken throughout the day as well as a conversion of the data into calories burned.


Agriculture and food industries

Hydroponic Vertical farming

These two industries are still experimenting out smart sensors. These cutting-edge networked sensors gather, analyze, and transmit the data included in the charts (leaf area, vegetation index, chlorophyll, hygrometry, temperature, water potential, radiation). The goal is to offer real-time monitoring through a smartphone with a variety of recommendations that maximize plot management in terms of outcomes, time, and costs based on this scientific data. These sensors may be used on farms to identify crop stages and suggest the best times for inputs and treatments. Along with managing irrigation intensity.

The food sector demands increasing levels of security, openness, and thorough documentation. In addition to being employed as a tracking system, this new technology also gathers data about people and products.

Accelerated transition to the knowledge economy

An economic system known as a “knowledge economy” is one in which production and services are primarily focused on knowledge-intensive activities that hasten the speed of technical and scientific advancement as well as hasten the obsolescence of products. By placing a greater emphasis on intellectual skills than on physical inputs or natural resources, Industry 4.0 supports transitions into knowledge economies.

Industry applications

The aerospace sector has been referred to as “too low volume for extensive automation” at times; however, several aerospace companies have looked into Industry 4.0 principles, and technologies have been developed to increase productivity in areas where the initial investment in automation cannot be justified. The M4 project from the producer of aircraft components Meggitt PLC is one illustration of this.

At Bosch and throughout Germany, the growing usage of the industrial internet of things is known as Industry 4.0. Machines that can anticipate faults and initiate maintenance procedures on their own are examples of applications, as are self-organized coordination systems that respond to unanticipated changes in production.

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