Challenges of modernity: What is the future of the industry?

By João Lopes In Artigo Autaza, Automação Industrial, Industria 4.0 — October 23, 2019



Have you ever heard of the Fourth Industrial Revolution? The first 3 industrial revolutions brought mass production, assembly lines, electricity, and information technology – but, now, living a great milestone in human history, with the ever-growing presence of technologies in all walks of our lives. The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is a concept developed by the German Klaus Schwab, director and founder of the World Economic Forum. For him, industrialization has reached a fourth phase, which “will fundamentally transform the way we live, work and relate, unlike anything human beings have experienced before.”

This unprecedented and so disruptive moment is driven by a set of advanced technologies that will fuse the physical, digital and biological worlds such as robotics, bigdata (analysis and interpretation of large data volumes), artificial intelligence, augmented reality, nanotechnology, 3D printing and the internet of things — digital interconnection of objects or things with the internet. It is estimated that by 2025 we will have more than 100 billion objects connected to the IoT (Internet of Things).

It is a matter of time, but the industries that we know today will be fully automated with systems that combine machines with digital processes.

To give you an idea, within a few years, processes related to the so-called industry 4.0 estimates a reduction in equipment maintenance costs of 10% to 40%, as well as an energy consumption reduction of 10% to 20%, and an increase in work efficiency between 10% and 25%, according to McKinsey’s consulting projections. These numbers make it clear that change is urgent! 

This global transformation involves automated, connected and intelligent factories. In this process that uses large amounts of data to make decisions, without the need for human intervention, we generate a faster production chain and an unbridled race for innovation and technology. In China, for example, in 2015 an aggressive program called “Made in China” was launched, aimed at being among the largest industrial forces in the world by 2049. In the United States, federal investments totaled US$ 600 million and attracted more US$ 1.2 billion from the private sector. And Germany has two important strategies for the success of industry 4.0, which is defensive (staying competitive) and aggressive (developing new markets). But what about Brazil? 

According to data recently released by the National Confederation of Industry, it will take Brazil more than half a century to reach the per capita product of developed countries, if the national average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of the last 10 years is maintained. That is, we are very late. In another survey conducted by the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp) in partnership with the National Service for Industrial Training of the State of São Paulo (Senai-SP) last year, it was pointed out that only 41% of industries use lean manufacturing or lean production system. And 32% of respondents to the survey had not even heard of the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 or Advanced Manufacturing; different names for the same change in production, based on technology and standalone devices

Surely we have many internal challenges in our country and now we need to accelerate. The bright side is that there is a great deal of opportunity to be covered as the most complete Industry 4.0 models should be in place by 2025. Stepping up and creating better business conditions for innovation is the only way to survive in this rapidly changing global marketplace. We need infrastructure, technology diffusion programs, and regulatory improvement through government management that prioritizes these agendas.

The transition process for industry 4.0, for most Brazilian companies, will be gradual, being determined by the investments made and the technological and productive capacity. The country’s competitiveness in relation to many other countries that have already started on the front depends on incorporating the new technologies of Industry 4.0, allowing them to compete on equal terms in the internal market and abroad. It is challenging but totally possible.

In the next text, we will talk about the impact of robotization on the future of work and whether we will really be replaced by machines just like in science fiction films and series.

Beatriz Bevilaqua, journalist and passionate about technology!