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Powering the 4th Industrial Revolution

Powering the 4th Industrial Revolution

By: Ian Vernon

The 4th Industrial Revolution is here! What does that mean? The Industrial Revolution is a transition for new manufacturing processes. The first industrial revolution started in Great Britain in 1760s  from hand production to machines. The second industrial revolution known as the technological revolution and was a rapid phase of industrialisation between 1870 to 1914 at the beginning of the first world war. The third industrial revolution was powered by automation and robotics started around 1969. Now, less than 50 years later we have reached the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0 which is being powered by digitisation, virtualisation and connectivity, especially the internet of things.

We are in an era where machines talk to each other in real time to be more productive, to be safer, energy efficient and human friendly. Various technologies are powering the advent of Industry 4.0 that includes:

  • Machine learning: Powered by artificial intelligence finding the best algorithms to improve efficiencies and productivity, in return it promotes innovations.
  • Smart controllers: Industrial robots are carrying increasingly more complex and more precise tasks in shorter periods of time.
  • Rapid prototyping: Improvement of products and processes in a short period of time including the use of virtualization.
  • Sensor management: Management of sensors and actuators from a distance ensures the right decisions are taken and increases flexibility.
  • Better tools: Smart collaborative robots working side by side with humans including production of tools necessary to improve processes on site.
  • Service integration: With sensors and actuators, maintenance no longer need to shut down the production line, early preventive maintenance is now the new norm.
  • Cross technology: Industries of tomorrow is no longer only about production but also of big data, connected devices, green energy, cloud and edge computing and more importantly mobile.

The internet of things is one of the drivers for Industry 4.0, however at its current state,  IoT and connected devices might do more harm than good unless we address the fundamental issue of security. Most IoT devices today are not fully secure, even Alexa can be hacked. If we continue on this path, it will be chaos in a few years wherein anyone good enough with sinister motives can hijack your connected devices, or worse use it against you. This holds true for sensors and actuators we integrated to industries and enterprises. To ensure a truly connected future, we must, at this stage, secure our connected devices.

It is not yet too late to do that, the solution are both innovative and simple, too simple intact that it is often overlook. To secure this connected devices, senosors and actuators is simply putting a secured gateway in-between the devices and the internet. Such gateway can be managed by an AI that becomes a trusted level of security on top of the security provided by the gateway. The AI then ensures that only trusted devices and users are able to access, manage and command and control the connected devices.

For the fourth industrial revolution to move forward this simple solution is a must and can be achieved through proper integration. Its not only for our own safety and security but also to protect our privacy.