THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

The world as we know and experience it today has been shaped by three major technological revolutions. The first Industrial Revolution, beginning in Great Britain at the tail end of the 18th century and ending in the mid-19th century, represented a radical shift away from an agrarian economy to one defined by the introduction of mechanical production methods.

The second period of radical transformation – with the advent of industrial production and the birth of the factory at the start of the 20th century – was no less precipitous; ushering in as it did an age of affordable consumer products for mass consumption. In the late 1960s the use of electronics and IT in industrial processes opened the door to a new age of optimized and automated production.

Today we stand on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution; one which promises to marry the worlds of production and network connectivity in an “Internet of Things (IoT)” and “Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)” which makes “INDUSTRIE 4.0” a reality. “Smart production” becomes the norm in a world where intelligent ICT-based machines, systems and networks are capable of independently exchanging and responding to information to manage industrial production processes.

The question now is how to bring this technology shift to South Africa, how it will benefit the South African economy by improving its competiveness in a global market situation and therefore will be creating more job opportunities. And how can Sub-Saharan Africa benefit by making South Africa the knowledge hub supporting the further economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

What is smart industry and what does “Industrial Internet of Things” or “INDUSTRIE 4.0” mean exactly? Smart industry refers to the technological evolution from embedded systems to cyber-physical systems. Put simply, IIoT and INDUSTRIE 4.0 represents the coming fourth industrial revolution on the way to an Internet of Things, Data and Services. Decentralized intelligence helps create intelligent object networking and independent process management, with the interaction of the real and virtual worlds representing a crucial new aspect of the manufacturing and production process. IIoT and INDUSTRIE 4.0 represents a paradigm shift from “centralized” to “decentralized” production – made possible by technological advances which constitute a reversal of conventional production process logic. Simply put, this means that industrial production machinery no longer simply “processes” the product, but that the product communicates with the machinery to tell it exactly what to do.

Connected Industries 2017 is the first conference of its kind in Africa bringing together representatives from South African Government, international stakeholders with Higher Education representatives, local and international industry experts, suppliers and end-users to discuss and pave the way forward for the next Industrial Revolution. The conference will also be hosted in both East- and West Africa in 2018.

 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution