By JASON VICK and ALAN SULLIVAN
Industrial revolutions, by definition, change the way we work, live and interact within the world around us. The world’s first two industrial revolutions significantly changed the way we traveled and moved goods. The first accomplished this through the introduction of the steam engine, and the second did it through the introduction of new energy sources like electricity, gas and oil, which fueled the growth of new automobile and aviation industries.
Unfortunately, these advances in mobility also multiplied the opportunities for viruses to spread. Historically, diseases like influenza were spread outside of communities through relatively limited trading routes. The average person’s ability to travel within and outside of their home country was significantly enhanced by the first and second industrial revolutions, and this change in human mobility quickly became the primary means for disease spread. We’ve now seen the impact disease can have on our highly mobile, global society.
The third industrial revolution introduced electronics, computers, telecommunications, PLCs and early robots, which led to significant improvements in process automation. These advances were essential building blocks for the fourth industrial revolution that we are currently experiencing.
So, what will be the impact of this fourth Industrial Revolution? How will it change the way we work, live and interact within the world around us? The pandemic of 2020 and “social distancing” have changed the way most of us work and socialize, with many people relying on internet communication for both their work and social lives. There are still millions of jobs that require manual processes, putting these essential workers at risk. Will the convergence of technology and the challenges of globalization drive even more automation to protect our front-line workers?
In 2019, 58.7% of the world’s population actively used the internet. In more developed parts of the world such as North America and Europe, those numbers were as high as 94.6% and 87.2% respectively (Group, Miniwatts Marketing, 2020). It is also estimated that more than five billion people use mobile devices, with over half of those devices being smart phones (SILVER, 2019). With so much of the world’s population having access to the internet and mobile devices, companies are much better positioned to begin to realize the benefits of what this latest industrial revolution has to offer.
We have finally reached a point in technological advancement where human mobility has a different meaning. In the context of Industry 4.0, human mobility has provided the capability for many of us to perform our jobs from anywhere, at any time. Companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Uber have already significantly changed the way we interact with the world around us.
In the industrial space, the advances Hexagon continues to make in areas such as digital and operational twins, edge computing, the internet of things and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide a unique opportunity for our Owner Operator customers to explore ways in which they can safely and reliably run their smart manufacturing facilities while gaining the flexibility and benefits of a workforce that can contribute from anywhere, at any time.
Today we are forced to change the way we work. How many of us can leverage this experience to make our businesses better once the crisis has passed?
- Group, Miniwatts Marketing. (2020, March 3). INTERNET USAGE STATISTICS. Retrieved from Internet World Stats: https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
- SILVER, L. (2019, February 5). Smartphone Ownership Is Growing Rapidly Around the World, but Not Always Equally. Retrieved from Pew Research Center: https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2019/02/05/smartphone-ownership-is-growing-rapidly-around-the-world-but-not-always-equally/
Jason Vick is an Executive Industry Consultant responsible for consulting with Owner/Operators on their Digital Transformation journey. Prior to joining Hexagon PPM, Vick spent 11 years with Aveva focused on Digital Workforce Enablement and 12 years at the Delaware City Refinery where he held several positions within Maintenance, Technical, and Reliability Groups
Alan is a Hexagon PPM senior industry consultant who has managed software projects for operating manufacturing and power generation clients for over three decades. He currently manages j5 Operations Management implementations for a long-time LNG customer and also helps clients with business processes, requirements and challenges.