Like everything else, even the factories are now getting smarter. With a combination of robotics, internet of things and cloud computing, production factories can now be a lot more efficient, more connected, more predictable and of course, smarter.
That leads us to the next question, is robotics and industry 4.0 really changing things for the better, or are they just killing human jobs and leading the civilization towards a machine-led enslavement, like Skynet in the movie The Terminator?
It is true that realization and implementation of industry 4.0 are going to reshape how industries currently work, but how exactly?
Digital Supply Chain
Supply chain ecosystem determines how a company should produce their goods. In old school supply chain process, data is gathered through a standardized process. Customer demand is analyzed through the collected information and the marketing team makes decisions on what volume to produce their goods in an upcoming lot. If the study is properly done, the margin between demand and supply should not be noticeably bigger. The company will surely have some excess goods in their inventory, but not much.
The problem in the analog supply chain is, real-time data on production statistics can’t really be gathered. The chances of mechanical failure before its expected lifetime is less but not uncommon, neither it is impossible. In a small or mid-sized industry, such failures could lead a mess in the supply chain. Through digitized supply chain, data is real time. Sensors, improved HMIs and PLCs, internet of things and cloud computing create an active hive of moving information. Increased production efficiency is one of the biggest benefits of Industry 4.0.
With industry 4.0 emerging, the major concern among the employees is whether all the robotics and automation are going to take away their jobs, since machines are now supposedly more intelligent, accurate, and more connected.
Well, note in the title, we used ‘changing’ instead of ‘taking away’. Robots and other automation technologies are able to operate more effectively in dangerous conditions, and more consistently for monotonous tasks, taking away the human error aspect. But is getting humans away from dangerous conditions a bad thing? No, of course, some jobs are to be taken away, or as I would put it, “adjusted”. For example, the person who used to monitor machine statistics for optimum performance and logged the data in a book may lose that job, but there would be a better one for them – monitoring if the sensors are gathering precise and accurate data and distributing them over the connected network properly. This may require them to learn new technology, but the new automation system won’t leave them jobless. Improvisation and the learning/training of skills is the key to survival in this era of robotics and industry 4.0.
Emergence of New Jobs
Because of Industry 4.0, automation and cybersecurity jobs are on the rise. Professionals with skills in device prototyping, machine language, internet of things, data science and cybersecurity will be in high demand in the foreseeable future.
What’s your verdict?
What do you think of Robotics and Industry 4.0? To us, things are changing for the better. Automation is going to ensure safer and more efficient work environment at lesser setup and maintenance cost. As long as the workers are willing to adapt to the new ecosystem and renew their skills, life should go on just fine.
Written by Greg Conrad from AX Control.