The Industrial Revolution marked a major shift in how products were manufactured. This period marked an era of unprecedented growth, contributing to better living standards.
Most manufacturing was done at home by hand or with simple tools. But the development of more sophisticated machines and improvements in efficiency meant that goods could be manufactured on a much larger scale.
One such example is the introduction of the assembly line. Henry Ford completely revolutionised the automobile industry by installing moving lines to aid in the vehicle building process. Previously it took approximately 12 hours to build a single car but the assembly line cut that time down to two hours and 30 minutes. This production method contributed to the Model T becoming one of the best selling vehicles.
Manufacturing processes have seen major technological advancements since then in the way that products are created. And now the next major Industrial Revolution (dubbed “Industry 4.0”) is already under way with technologies based on the Internet of Things.
So what is the Internet of Things and how does it affect manufacturing?
The Internet has fundamentally changed nearly all aspects of everyday life. No longer do you need to rely on phone books to find local businesses or make bank transfers in person or even go to the store for your weekly shopping. Now the Internet makes it possible to do all these right in the comfort of your home or on the go with a mobile device.
The Internet of Things is the next iteration of what is possible with this vast global network.
It refers to a system of interrelated computing devices that all use the Internet protocol to transfer data and communicate with each other. Consumers already have a taste of what is possible with the Internet of Things. Smartphones and even some newer wearables are able to send commands to physical objects (e.g. turning on a light, adjusting thermostats, activating camera, etc.) over this network.
Some of the number involved are staggering. It is predicted that by 2020, there will be 4 billion connected people, over 25 million connected apps and over 25 billion embedded and intelligent systems, creating a $4 trillion revenue opportunity.
No other sector will be more heavily impacted than manufacturing
Manufacturing is right in the midst of a revolution that is largely driven by the Internet of Things and intelligent processes, something that was simply not possible before. New technologies provide deeper insight in each step of the production process. Management is thus able to make manufacturing far more productive and even cost effective as potential deficiencies can be quickly fixed.