We are at the threshold of a new revolution, wherenew technologies are combined physical, digital and biological systems. The”Bio-Nano” world will be propelled by innovations in driverless cars, smartrobotics, lighter and tougher materials, manufacturing based on 3D printing andnew medicines made possible by the fusion of nanotechnology and geneticengineering. With the emerging information technologies, such as IoT, big data,and cloud computing together with artificial intelligence technologies, webelieve the smart factory of Industrie 4.0 can be implemented on the concept of”blurring the real world with the technological world”. As physical and digital worlds merge, manufacturing processes willchange dramatically in the future.
The smart factory helps to implementthe sustainable production mode to cope with the global challenges and affectour lifestyle fundamentally “the way we live, work and relate to one another”.As the fourth industrial revolution takes shape, Industrie 4.0 is currently atop priority for many companies and research centers. The benefits of thistechnology adoption for manufacturing will be widespread. Plant managers get real-time insights from the shop floorand immediate control of production processes which enable more flexible and autonomous manufacturing units. Itwill lead to smarter supply chains, smarter production, and smarter products.
At the same time, there is a clear change in tone from some of the “Truebelievers.” in the mantra of ‘Creative destruction’. If intelligent robots takeover most of the human work in the factories of the future, it will makeeveryone clearly worried about the unemployment problem becoming ubiquitous asthis latest industrial revolution becomes more widespread. It predicts, evenmore, concentration of wealth at the extreme top and the threat of almostpermanent unemployment, not only for the non/semi-skilled workers but forskilled workers in offices and factories as well 93. Again socialmanufacturing will strengthen the competitivenessof manufacturing industry. In a world ofincreasing market volatility, shorter product life cycles, higher productcomplexity, and global supply chains, companies are seeking to become moreflexible and responsive to business trends. This will make many traditionalproductions and logistic processes obsolete 94.
The biggest scare forprofessional jobs comes from the massive advance in the field of “Big data.”Enormous data gathered these days in all fields of activities could be analyzedautomatically and useful information extracted from them without the need ofhuman interface as research on “Big data” matures 95. People without incomewould not be able to buy goods produced by the robots.
Also, the refugee crisiscan deteriorate as people without hope hit the road in search of a better life.So the world is standing before a large question whether industry 4.0 is goingto be a boon or bane and which steps can be taken to prevent futureunemployment.
However, Industry 4.0 creates new meanings for the concepts ofwork, workplace, health and safety, availability and flexibility. While manytraditional workplaces will disappear, new ones will be created but the overalleffect on jobs is not clear.
What is clear is that Industry 4.0 will createdisruptions in the labour market by eliminating some of the low-skilled and/orrepetitive jobs, at the same time increasing the shortage of talented andhighly-skilled workers. Workers must be given new skills to mastertechnological developments, or risk being left behind. Countries will have torethink educational systems and encourage life-long learning in order to makehuman resources competitive and succeed in the fourth industrial revolution.Developed countries, with Germany in particular, are at the forefront ofindustrial revolution. Developing countries first aim to boost labourproductivity, offset high production costs and solve societal issues.
If thesechallenges can be managed successfully, there is an inherent opportunity forbusinesses throughout the world.