Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 has become the standard labeling of our society reaching the fourth industrial revolution. Previous revolutions have been marked by game-changing inventions that have significantly impacted our way of life. The first was the steam engine. The second is mass production via electrical power. The third is the use of electronics and network infrastructure otherwise known as the ‘digital age’. Now we approach the fourth industrial revolution, one highlighted by the boom of computer technology.

The Predecessors

First Industrial Revolution

The first industrial revolution landed between the years 1760 and 1840. Its mainly characterized by the innovation of steam/water powered. Other significant milestones also include the growth of textile and iron production. As well as innovations in agriculture and mining. The first industrial revolution also saw a boom in middle-class growth.

Second Industrial Revolution

The second Industrial Revolution has at times been called the “technological revolution” which took place between 1871 and 1914. While by today’s standards, the technological leap may not seem that significant, for that time society saw these advancements as nothing less than groundbreaking. The biggest innovations to come from that era included the railroad and telegraph lines. These innovations widely improved people’s ability to not only have mainstream access across the continent but also to share ideas a lot faster.

Probably the most revolutionary advancement around this time was the streamlining of electricity. With this innovation, electricity could be in not only in homes but also to better run machines in factories. Pushing them to develop the modern production line that we know today.

Third Industrial Revolution

The third industrial revolution is marked towards the end of the 20th century. Advancements in things like Boolean logic and computer language code were huge game changers in setting up the way computers and machines communicate with one another. Speaking of communication, one innovation that really took off during this time and has had a massive effect on multip generations is the internet.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Building off of the third industrial revolution, the fourth industrial revolution takes digitalization to a whole new level. Many of the technological advancements during this time have roots in communication and being able to access data faster and more widely. While the third revolution brought forth the internet, the fourth revolution focused on making it faster with things like broadband. This compounded with the need to make it more mobile brought forth 3G, 4G, and 5G technology as well as devices that can use them.

Industrial Automation and Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 isn’t just a phenomenon impacting the tech sector. Innovations regarding industrial automation can be found here as well. One of the main effects of Industry 4.0 on industrial automation is the emergence of smart factories. Smart factories utilize advanced technologies such as robotics, and machine learning, to make more efficient manufacturing processes. One Deloitte report found that smart factories can improve productivity by up to 20%, reduce maintenance costs by up to 30%, and reduce energy consumption by up to 20%. This is made possible by the integration of real-time data analytics, which allows for predictive maintenance, intelligent quality control, and optimized production planning.

Another impact of Industry 4.0 on industrial automation is the increased use of collaborative robots, also known as cobots. Unlike traditional industrial robots, which are typically isolated from human workers, cobots can work alongside humans in a shared workspace. They are designed to be safe, easy to program, and flexible, which makes them ideal for small-batch and custom manufacturing. Cobots can also be easily reconfigured to perform different tasks, which enables manufacturers to quickly adapt to changing market demands.


From its beginnings in simple textile manufacturing to its evolution to digital information, industrialization continues to move the gears of globalization while leaving a huge impact on culture and economics. Industry 4.0 continues to move the needle of automizing and producing goods that are not only more efficient to make, but cost-effetive too. As we progress with more advancements in digitalization we very well could be seeing Industry 5.0 centered around AI, but that has yet to be seen.

Updated on April 15, 2023 by Ken Cheng

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