Industry 4.0 takes center stage at World Economic Forum

Industry 4.0 is the next phase in the digitization of the manufacturing sector, driven by four disruptions: the astonishing rise in data volumes, computational power, and connectivity, especially new low-power wide-area networks; the emergence of analytics and business-intelligence capabilities; new forms of human-machine interaction such as touch interfaces and augmented-reality systems; and improvements in transferring digital instructions to the physical world, such as advanced robotics and 3-D printing. I’ve previously shared my thoughts on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact on manufacturing and healthcare. Industry 4.0 may very well be one of the most significant opportunities of our lifetime.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact on our future took center stage at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) as leaders gathered to discuss Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Davos, Switzerland.

Recently, HP thought leaders shared our blueprint for a successful and sustainable production ecosystem in a fully digitized world. The blueprint will help address the challenges faced during previous industrial revolutions and is based on three pillars: education, incentives, and collaboration.

Here are the pillars our CEO, Dion Weisler, laid out:

  • Education Accelerated innovation, the radical transformation of age-old industries, and digitization of analog processes are all hallmarks of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As a result, job requirements are shifting fast and will continue to do so in the future. Without reskilling the current generation of workers, we face a shortfall of 2 million alternative manufacturing jobs by 2025 in the US alone. Similarly, we must provide R&D funding to educational institutions to ensure the next wave of entrepreneurs and future generations will be equipped with the new skills needed to function in the future economy.
  • Incentives Governments can enable a sustainable ecosystem by incentivizing investment in and development of socially and environmentally beneficial digital manufacturing. A growing list of countries are now providing incentives to advance the Fourth Industrial Revolution. China, for example, has plans to invest $245 million over the next seven years and continue driving the adoption of digital manufacturing technologies.
  • Collaboration From business and government to educational institutions and local communities, we must collaborate across sectors to embrace new technology and overcome the challenges ahead. A great example of this is in Singapore with the partnership between Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and HP to open a new lab dedicated to driving innovation, technology, skills and economic development critical to thriving in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Keeping sustainability in mind

Digital manufacturing creates endless possibilities for a more sustainable planet. By reducing the environmental impacts of production, shortening traditional supply chains, and allowing sustainable industries to enter the playing field, it will accelerate a more circular economy. It can also be a positive, influential force in our global communities by enabling new business models and creating new local jobs.

Dion summed up the responsibility we all have to make sustainability a priority: “With this industrial revolution we have a collective responsibility to ensure sustainability is a priority from the start.”

We are already experiencing changes in policies and industries as our digital and physical worlds continue to merge, but it’s important to keep looking at our futures. How do you think we can work together to ensure Industry 4.0 has a positive, lasting, and sustainable effect on our lives?

HP CTO & Global Head HPLabs. Technology futurist, passionate leader focused on 3dprinting, cybersecurity, drones, travel, and FriendsNational.

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