Industry 4.0 has revolutionised the manufacturing industry, enabling more efficient processes and faster production time at lower costs. However, it has also led to far-reaching impacts on technology and workforce across the world.
In fact, Singapore is already starting to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The Economic Development Board has launched the Smart Industry Readiness Index and its accompanying Assessment Matrix in 2017 to help firms assess how far they are in adopting Industry 4.0 and discover where the gaps are.
Trade associations like the Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association (SPETA) have monthly events to raise awareness of what Industry 4.0 entails, according to The Business Times.
The growing emphasis on Industry 4.0 by the government and trade associations is one key step in Singapore’s journey towards a Smart Nation.
This poses a bigger question: How will Industry 4.0 impact technology and the future of work, especially your industry and job?
Impact Of Industry 4.0 On Technology
New Technologies Emerging Due To Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 brings with it a technological revolution. Emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Analytics, Robotics and Automation have permeated our day-to-day activities, from manufacturing products to serving customers.
Our industry partner, Mr Volker Schmid, Head of Asia Pacific at Festo Didactic SE, points out that Industry 4.0 will have a huge impact on the manufacturing industry: "Since I4.0 focuses on IoT, respectively communication, we will see a lot more intelligence moving to the field devices. This means, more intelligent, yet more complex devices and modules will be developed, if not yet available. Even our Festo products are becoming more intelligent. They're no longer pure mechanical devices."
"We will see more AI being integrated into such devices like self-learning applications and intelligent sensors. We will also be able to approach processes in a different way, such as preventive and predictive maintenance. I4.0 and related technologies will help us to handle energy more efficiently and in the long term, even develop autonomous production lines. Therefore, we will see a lot more customisation to happen and less mass production," he continues.
These new emerging technologies will change the way we work and transform our work processes.
According to The Straits Times, productivity rates can soar by 300% with the deployment of Industry 4.0 technologies.
Enhancing Human Experience With Industry 4.0 Technologies
One of the crucial questions about the emerging technologies that Industry 4.0 brought about is whether these new technologies will affect the human experience. Or worse, replace it entirely.
However, numerous businesses have shown how combining big data and Artificial Intelligence only improved customer experience. In addition to evolving the way businesses do things, the new technologies have enabled businesses to serve customers in more responsive and customised ways that were previously not possible.
Chatbot is one such solution. Powered by Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing systems, chatbots can interpret what is being asked before giving a suitable answer. Some highly advanced self-learning chatbots will even learn from user requests and improve their knowledge base with each interaction over time.
This human centred automation is another milestone of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Rather than replacing human with machine, Industry 4.0 has created a new type of interaction that harnesses the capability of machines and flexibility of human.
Impact Of Industry 4.0 On Workforce
Industry 4.0 Reinvents The Way We Work
According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, roughly one-fifth of the global workforce will be impacted by the adoption of Artificial Intelligence and automation, with the most significant impact in developed nations like the UK, German and US. By 2022, 50% of companies believe that automation will decrease their numbers of full-time staff and by 2030, robots will replace 800 million workers across the world.
With the Fourth Industrial Revolution impacting nearly every industry, another study predicted that 50% of jobs are vulnerable to automation.
Here are the jobs within specific industries that are likely to become obsolete or automated:
The future of work, especially for the manufacturing industry, is becoming uncertain with the rise of Industry 4.0 technology. In addition to affecting the employment rate of the manufacturing sector, it also impacts the jobs and skills of manufacturing workers.
The Business Times pointed out that manufacturing's share of employment in Singapore had shrunk throughout the years. It employed only 13% of the workforce in 2017, compared to about 20% in 2008.
Many companies embracing Industry 4.0 face challenges like the shortage of skilled workers and job mismatch. Menial assembly and production jobs are being phased out. However, there is not enough manpower with the required digital skills to accelerate the leap into Industry 4.0.
A new kind of worker is needed to take on the new type of jobs that emerge with Industry 4.0. For example, industrial data scientists, robot coordinators and software developers.
As Mr Lim Kok Kiang, Executive Vice President of Economic Development Board (EDB), says: "As the sector undergoes transformation, the nature of manufacturing jobs is changing as they become more highly skilled, require flexible judgement, and have greater potential for career growth."
Mr Volker Schmid shares an insightful perspective on how Industry 4.0 impacts the way we work: "Work may shift towards working for the system and away from working within the system. However, certain job descriptions remain the same but will be enriched with more IT knowledge and IT support, such as maintenance, welding, fitters and machine builders. In the future, working with machines and devices will be more collaborative. For example, collaborative robots or CNC machines adopting to each individual operator (also during learning on the machine phase). We will also be able to work at anytime, anywhere, at least for those jobs which can be accomplished digitally."
Be Future-Ready For Industry 4.0 Workplace
Continuous retraining and lifelong learning are essential to remain relevant during the Industry 4.0 era.
Chris Pace, director of construction, property and engineering at Randstad Singapore, believes that there will be an increasing demand for degree holders in manufacturing as they have the "in-depth knowledge and skills needed to navigate this changing landscape".
As Mr Volker Schmid says, "From now onwards, more IT knowledge is required. For example, cybersecurity and machine intelligence. We need to understand which specific data is required and how to analyse those kind of data, as part of big data collection. More knowledge and skills in topics such as digital twin and AI will also be required."
In addition to technical skills and knowledge, we need to look at the big picture. Mr Volker Schmid continues, "We need to understand the big picture of I4.0, how to initiate the implementation, where to start, what to leave out willingly and develop specific business models for the future, before initiating the digital journey. We also need to consider change management since I4.0 has an impact in all areas of a company."
To future-proof your career and harness the power of the new disruptive manufacturing technologies, you can consider upskilling and reskilling with courses like Specialist Diploma In Advanced Digital Manufacturing (Singapore’s 1st Industry 4.0 Specialist Diploma) at TUM Asia. Combining German engineering with Asian relevance, the programme equips participants with relevant Industry 4.0 knowledge and skills as well as hands-on experience with Industry 4.0 training equipment.
The impact of Industry 4.0 is felt greatly across all industries worldwide.
Prepare yourself to successfully navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution with the Specialist Diploma In Advanced Digital Manufacturing. With up to 90% SkillsFuture Singapore funding available, speak to our course consultants today to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org or 6777 7407.