By: Clay Wells | Universal Logic

We live in a world of cell phones and computers. Just think about how you’re reading this post—most likely on your phone or computer. For those who prefer print, press “Control + P” for your own personal copy.

If we conducted an experiment and brought people from 100 years in the past to the present, they would encounter a vastly different world. Imagine the stark contrast between the world they came from and the one they would find today.

Now, let’s repeat this experiment with people exactly 100 years apart. As the recent centuries have progressed, we’ve witnessed an ever-accelerating pace of change. A person from 1800 transported to 1900 would be amazed by inventions such as the lightbulb and the telephone. However, as we go further back in time, the differences between each century become smaller and smaller. Life in 1200 would be less contrasting compared to life in 1100, and so on.

But have you ever considered the rapidity of our world’s transformation? In this post, we will explore the significant changes brought about by technology throughout history, focusing on the four industrial revolutions. Additionally, we will delve into Industry 4.0, the current revolution in which Universal Logic—an Industry 4.0 company—stands at the forefront.

How did we get to number four already?

1 – Moving Away from Manual Labor

Imagine a time when humans relied heavily on manual labor and animals for their work. Then came the first industrial revolution, where steam and water power became game-changers. Suddenly, people could use machines to increase productivity, save time, and conserve energy.

Notable inventions include:

  • Steam Pump – Thomas Savery – 1698
  • Steam Engine – Thomas Newcomen – 1712, and improved by James Watt in 1765
  • Spinning Jenny – James Hargreaves – 1764
  • Power Loom – Edmund Cartwright -1784

2 – Connecting People with People

The second industrial revolution focused on connecting people through infrastructure. Advancements like the Bessemer Process, which allowed the mass production of high-quality steel, facilitated the construction of bridges, railroads, and essential infrastructure. Inventions such as the lightbulb, the telephone, cars, planes, and modern medicine further fueled this era of connectivity.

Notable inventions include:

  • Bessemer Process – Henry Bessemer – 1856
  • Telephone – Alexander Graham Bell – 1876
  • Light Bulb – Thomas Edison – 1879
  • Car – Carl Benz – 1886
  • Plane – The Wright Brothers – 1903

3 – Humans Communicating with Machines

Following the world wars, the third industrial revolution emerged, characterized by automation in manufacturing and production processes. Technologies like computers, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), and robots reduced human intervention, increased efficiency, and paved the way for modern-day manufacturing practices.

Notable inventions include:

  • Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) – Dick Morley – 1968
  • The Internet – Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn – 1969
  • Personal Computer – MITS – 1974

4 – Machines Communicating with Machines

Building upon the third revolution, the fourth takes automation and interconnectivity to new heights. This era is marked by machines communicating with each other, providing valuable insights for operating machinery, inventory management, and maintenance.

The defining characteristics of this period are inventions such as IoT and AI, which foster a data-driven mindset that better connects operators to their machines.

Notable inventions include:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Alan Turing -1935
  • Cloud Computing – J.C.R Licklider – 1962
  • Internet of Things (IoT) – Kevin Ashton – 1999
  • Digital Twin – Michael Grieves – 2002

Why is #4 So Important?

Understanding and investing in Industry 4.0 can benefit your business.

The reason I have gone to such lengths to describe the initial revolutions is simple. It shows that however revolutionary an invention is, it is relevant mainly in the short term, not the long term.

In 1700, you could have invested all your wealth into steam pumps, and business would’ve been great for a few years. But by 1750, your steam pump business may be less profitable, and by 1800, you couldn’t even give away a steam pump.

It is essential to understand this time scale because every day that passes, we are not only further from Industry 3.0 technologies being the mainstay; we are also one day closer to Industry 5.0. 

Understanding the technologies available to you and how they can help is crucial. Products such as AI and IoT allow you to gather and analyze that data in a way that gives you actionable information.

For example, if you are manufacturing cars, you can produce ten different models on any given day. You integrated your facility with sensors connected to the internet (IoT). As production continues, AI informs you of a detected pattern of faults in your data. The welds are off by just a fraction of an inch for one specific model. By keeping a log of each weld, AI could detect this pattern and trace it back to its origin. While this small problem seems insignificant, it could have major implications; if these welds are wrong, this could cause the frame to separate in the event of a collision, making a small problem a big problem.

What are the benefits of investing in Industry 4.0?

One key advantage is the ability to customize products and services based on individual customer needs. By utilizing technologies like data analytics and AI, companies gain valuable insights into customer preferences, enabling personalized solutions tailored to specific requirements.

Furthermore, Industry 4.0 significantly improves supply chain visibility and agility. Real-time data on raw materials, inventory, and shipping status empowers companies to efficiently manage their supply chains, swiftly respond to market changes, and prevent disruptions. This data-driven approach facilitates informed decision-making, optimized operations, and overall improved business performance.

Universal Logic serves as an exemplary Industry 4.0 company that embraces innovation and drives progress. Through the integration of Vision AI with robots, Universal Logic enables seamless error handling in dynamic environments. Their use of AI and automation revolutionizes machine connectivity and communication, unlocking new levels of productivity, precision, and efficiency. Universal Logic stands as a testament to the power of Industry 4.0.

Reflecting on history, we can clearly observe how technology has driven significant changes. The industrial revolutions have reshaped society and propelled us forward. Today, we find ourselves in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, with companies like Universal Logic leading the way toward the future. By understanding our past, we can better anticipate where technology will take us, and Industry 4.0 undoubtedly paves the path to follow.