The Fourth Industrial Revolution

What is the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” or “Industry 4.0”?

The following definitions focus strongly on the Manufacturing aspect and are drawn from descriptions of Hofstra University and the website of Indramat Products.

The First Industrial Revolution (late 18th Century and early 19th Century) brought the benefit of mechanization through power generation.  The Second Industrial Revolution (late 19th Century and early 20th Century) brought about mass production along assembly lines, supported by the introduction of electricity into the industrial process.  The Third Industrial Revolution (late 20th Century) leveraged IT Technologies to advance automation and motion control in manufacturing. This brought about a level of production and efficiency that had never been seen before.  The Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is under way, is focused on robotization, enabling machines to perform more complex tasks and being able to adapt to a redefinition of these tasks.  Machines are therefore approaching the flexibility of human labor.

A broader view provided by Josh Sutton from Publicis.Sapient defines Industry 1.0 as the Agricultural era (150 years long), Industry 2.0 as the Industrial era (75 years long), Industry 3.0 as the Information age (40 years long) and Industry 4.0 as Connected Intelligence with an unknown length, but an expectation that the trend of acceleration of cycles continues.

And why does it matter to us?

“The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country.”

(Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum)

Contacts & Resources

View a list of contacts and resources in Wisconsin to get more information.


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