The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) — or Industry 4.0 — has been evolving for several years. Its foundation is AI, as data sets constantly increase in complexity and accuracy, providing industry real-time analytics and solutions to sector-wide problems. Internet of Things (IoT) devices, 5G and machine learning are only a few components of the success of 4IR, and AI bolsters all of them.
Here’s how AI is making waves in industry 4.0 and what the future holds for companies that embrace this technology.
Forcing More Regulations
AI’s prevalence in 4IR makes governments and private cybersecurity authorities take immediate action. Data privacy, risk management and technological resilience are prominent as governing bodies discover how essential these technologies are for 4IR’s stability. Little legislation or benchmarks exist to act as quality control.
New regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and compliance frameworks like Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) are well-timed responses to gaps in regulatory guidance in Industry 4.0. The accelerated adoption of AI catalyzes standardization of how to protect, utilize and transmit data, and it’s necessary to create cohesive expectations to avoid contention between industrial sectors.
If it weren’t for the umbrella of industries adopting AI, it’s uncertain how quickly these regulations would come to fruition. Industrial acceptance of AI will translate to the medical, financial and automotive sectors, to name a few. They require more compliance and regulations surrounding data use, privacy and cybersecurity to maintain customer confidence and improve consumer experiences. Industry 4.0 sets a precedent for everyone to use information responsibly and keep it secure.
Advancing AI Capabilities
The more humanity relies on AI to automate functions or take on tasks, the more vital it is to work well. AI can notify technicians when to communicate with procurement or repair machines, and people rely on these assessments to be more valid than human-generated suggestions.
The relationship between Industry 4.0 workers and AI is symbiotic — AI is integral to 4IR success and can only improve with human input and surveillance. Workers will further rely on AI as they become the reason behind revenue growth and error reductions. Therefore, people must invest in expediting AI development to meet the industry’s expectations. If it weren’t for 4IR, they could be further behind in these technologies.
One of AI’s more prominent waves in Industry 4.0 is its influence on global culture and technological acceptance. Forced advancement of AI in industry is necessary for it to become commonplace and to initiate international discourse. This is especially true as populations see how AI makes their lives easier, such as better informed public transportation services or interacting with autonomous robots at the grocery store.
These will advance AI further and solidify humanity’s expectations for industrial development and human interactivity.
Increasing Efficiency Expectations
AI has a profound impact on process discovery and data collection. That information simultaneously provides insights into individual companies and contributes to the industry by informing larger data sets. Efficiency like this comes with higher expectations. For example, sensors in industrial IoT (IIoT) tell AI how processes are going.
Industries can no longer claim ignorance of how they can maintain machinery or reduce carbon emissions. AI makes data-driven decisions with startling accuracy because it makes assertions based on historical and incoming data. It tells companies what they need to make changes and suggests solutions. AI could even suggest design optimizations without wasting too many resources. It can also analyze social media for how to best market a new product release to assure customer loyalty.
AI in Industry 4.0 means optimizing everything from the ground up — no business area is too insignificant to improve when AI has data from every corner. Here are some ways it helps Industry 4.0 exceed efficiency expectations for better customer experiences without human interference:
- It assists operators with inventory management and notices traceability
- Sensors eliminate faulty or poorly manufactured products before they hit the market.
- Data validates how increasing diversity in the supply chain improves deliverables.
- AI-informed software updates compliance requirements in real time.
AI provides endless ways to improve the 4IR, and additional technologies like 5G and edge computing make information come in too fast for companies to delay making immediate changes. Companies that don’t keep up risk falling behind faster than ever before. There will always be another business waiting to take the lead.
Changing Workforce Skills
Many people worry about AI taking jobs in manufacturing. However, the more likely scenario is they will be a supplement until the next stage of AI unravels. It will alter job descriptions on industry floors and educational curricula. Students won’t train for the exact skills they did before, and the existing workforce will adapt as more of their jobs rely on communicating with AI, parsing analytics and navigating tech stacks.
Industry jobs might become more cerebral and tech-oriented as AI informs robots and other autonomous technologies to do more hands-on assignments. Those entering Industry 4.0 are more likely to know how to make a digital twin or program 3D printers with AI assistance instead of gathering data by hand over the years in countless word-processing documents.
Data analysis and management will be another industry need, as the market will require professionals to distill numerous data points into actionable process developments. These analysts could relay insights that predict future problematic trends in production or highlight patterns that could save companies countless dollars.
Ultimately, humans will learn how to manage the machine that notices these patterns and trends. They will no longer be expected to perform these tasks themselves, freeing them to do more value-adding and creative tasks.
Why AI Is the Key to Industry 4.0
AI is equally disruptive and revolutionary and will only become more intelligent as time goes on. Its swift implementation forces humans to react quickly, crafting new protocols for how to use it to meet demand and protect customers while achieving unprecedented levels of efficiency. Developments like IIoT and collaborative robotics will only deepen AI’s value to the 4IR, as every technology and connected system automates and determines solutions with precision and ease.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine discussing the latest industry innovations and trends.