In recent months we have seen a growing swing towards automation in processing and manufacturing – and our own product range has moved in the same direction as people are looking for more ways to simplify and automate how things are made, processed and shipped.
So how are we embracing this fourth industrial revolution, and how are we supporting our customers to do the same?
History and industry have been revolutionised before – and working people initially respond negatively to sweeping change, fearful that jobs will be erased and an entire generation will lose their employment – and be unable to support their families.
As the first industrial revolution brought us steam power and mechanisation we saw factory workers forced to refocus and learn new skills, working with the machines they feared would replace them.
The second saw the developments of electricity, mass production and assembly lines; again, factory workers and skilled tradespeople feared they were being eradicated – and again people learned new skills, worked alongside the technology, and new jobs were created that hadn’t existed before.
With the birth of the computing age we once again saw machine replace man in existing roles – but once again, undreamed new roles were born as the need for maintaining and repairing those machines, as well as manning and programming them in their multiple roles, grew.
The latest developments see instant global communication and the gathering and processing of vast quantities of data; both of these are processes which once relied on hands-on human engagement, and are now carried out by technology. This communication isn’t just between the people manning the machines either – instead, the machines are talking among themselves, processing and completing tasks automatically under the direction of the computers processing the data.
Should we mistrust this evolution, or is this just another step on the path to developing the next round of new careers our forefathers would never have dreamed of?
As with each technological advancement, the ongoing evolution to Industry 4.0 – a German coined term which describes the trend of automation and data sharing – could be fought against (a losing battle) or embraced for the benefits it can bring to both manufacturing and employees, letting automation take over dangerous and repetitive labour and allowing programming to take the lead with manning workstations and processing orders and detailed specifications.
As with the generations of workers impacted by the first three industrial revolutions, this latest shift is changing the way that we work – but it doesn’t have to be frightening. Rather than thinking of this communicative automation taking roles from the human workforce, we should consider these developments a progressive tool which can take the manufacturing industry forwards in a time when global corporations and instant gratification mean we want things sooner, cheaper, better and to come with free flowing communication at every stage of the process.
Where we once understood that manufacturing could be a long and complex process, we are now seeing automation ensuring that production is carried out efficiently, effectively and safely. Systems ensure that manufacturing maintains a high standard, that there are very few fluctuations or errors in that process, and even the order processing and shipping can be automated.
Yes, this means that the employment market within the manufacturing industry is changing – but it is also protecting people from the impact of error and health and safety risks, and freeing the human workforce up to focus more on the creative and progressive aspects of the industry as the ‘grunt work’ is taken care of.
Design and development of applications and manufacturing will always be moving forward and the industry has long thrived on the impact of new technologies, embraced by a progressive and vital component of modern life. As technologies and capabilities evolve we are always striving to find a better, faster, stronger more effective solution for every manufacturing need.
The components which we source for our customers are always the best and most effective that we can find, always seeking better solutions for the applications and designs we are helping to complete.
From Wörner stops for production and processing to linear chain for motion control, and Graessner gear systems which can be tailored to precise automation applications, we embrace new designs, evolution of the products, and a growing and changing world into which our products are sold. Industry 4.0 is just the next in a rich history of technological growth, and allowing more processes to be automated protects people from stagnating, as well as from harm in their employment.
To see which of our products are the best fit for your designs – no matter how ambitious – call the team today and let’s build the future together.