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Murray McKintosh News Article

Industry 4.0 is set to revolutionise the engineering sector

Written by:

Jessica Kavanagh

From steam-powered equipment to the introduction of computer systems, industry is always finding innovative ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness at every stage. Now, we’re amid another industrial revolution as the engineering sector has embraced the importance of inter-machine communication and data to develop new manufacturing methods.

A combination of the internet of things, AI and machine learning are set to change the way engineers work forever, and it goes by the name of Industry 4.0.

This new wave of machines will be able to interpret data and monitor their own condition, allowing engineers to schedule maintenance as and when it is needed to prevent unexpected errors. This is just one of the ways that the inter-connectivity provided by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can help make engineering projects more efficient, by ensuring that time spent on repairs is minimised.

By connecting computers and other devices together, engineers can make better use of the terabytes of data that gets collected every day. IIoT can help translate all the complicated figures and turn them into manageable reports that can be used to greatly improve the productivity of a workplace.

However, Industry 4.0 isn’t just driven by the internet of things. There are a total of nine factors that are known as the Nine Pillars of Technological Advancement:

  • Systems integration – The technology that links all the different computer systems together. This enables the communication of data between systems.
  • Augmented reality – Allows imagery to be placed in the real world, giving everyone the chance to really discover the intricate details of a project through a new layer of depth.
  • Additive manufacturing – Utilising 3D design data to build components in layers.
  • Cyber security – The processes, tech and safeguards that are developed to protect a company’s system from hackers and malicious software.
  • Cloud computing – A network of remote services, used to store, manage and process data.
  • Autonomous systems – Helps machinery act, think and react on its own, after being programmed to do so.
  • Simulation – Imitating a situation, where a quick response makes all the difference allows engineers to prepare for scenarios with methods that they know work.
  • Internet of things – The connection of everyday items that allows them to send receive and process between themselves via the internet.
  • Big data – Big data sets are too big for traditional data processes to translate. Industry 4.0 will provide new ways to translate this huge amount of data.

While engineering encompasses a wide range of roles throughout an even wider selection of sectors, as industry 4.0 continues to be integrated, it will see all these roles change and evolve.

Some critics are sceptical towards Industry 4.0 due to the belief that it will be a job killer. However, the digitalisation of the engineering role is set to create more jobs than will be lost, with many more openings for those who can handle data and maintain the autonomous machinery becoming available. This presents a unique opportunity for engineers to upskill, just in time for a new industrial revolution.

Today, you can’t go to a single trade meet-up without hearing about Industry 4.0 or digitalisation, and with the potential to completely change the industry, now is the time to embrace it. Its full potential won’t be realised for a good few years, but preparing early means you can take your place at the forefront of Industry 4.0. 

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© 2016 Murray McIntosh.

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