From industry 1.0 to industry 4.0: three centuries of transformation

The term “industry 4.0” first appeared at the World Industry Forum in Hanover in 2001. When we speak of industry 4.0, or “industry of the future”, we are referring to the 4th industrial revolution, i.e. a new way of conceiving the means of production.

The different industrial revolutions over time

  • The 1st industrial revolution: mechanical production

It corresponds to the exploitation of coal and the use of the steam engine created by James Watt in 1769.

Mechanical production will replace craftsmanship, and manufacturing and craft workshops will give way to large factories. Within the factories, the machines will be operated using steam engines, which will significantly increase production rates.

Ainsi, les volumes de fabrication vont être plus important et vont donner naissance à des produits en petites séries.

Thus, the manufacturing volumes will increase and will result in small series products.

  • The 2nd industrial revolution: mass production

It arrived at the end of the 19th century through the use of oil and electricity. These two elements will make it possible to modernize the means of production on a large scale. This change mainly affects the automotive and chemical industries.

During this period Taylorism and chain work will be implemented. The productivity of unskilled workers will be exploited to the maximum to see the emergence of mass production of identical products.

  • The 3rd industrial revolution: automated production

This 3rd revolution took place in the middle of the 20th century thanks to the introduction of electronics and computer technologies. They allowed the implementation of production automation in factories as well.

These technologies are a replacement and relief for workers in the most difficult tasks. During this period, robotics and mass production were also introduced.

  • The 4th Industrial Revolution: Digital Transformation

Nowadays, mass production trends have been abandoned in favour of the personalization of products and services. Industry 4.0 will make it possible to respond to this problem of unique and personalized products while maintaining equivalent costs, despite the low production volumes required.

The transition to industry 4.0 is associated with the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT), cyber-physical systems and the rise of the world-wide interconnected networks.

Major manufacturers are now making digital transformation a strategic priority. To this end, more than $900 billion in investment is planned each year between 2016 and 2020.

Once again assuming a profound transformation of their operating methods and projecting this industry into a promising 21st century.