Industry 4.0: What is the fourth industrial revolution?

In 2011 at the Hanover industry technology fair in Germany, the term “industry 4.0” was used for the first time. Also known as the industry of the future, smart manufacturing or the factory of the future, industry 4.0 is this fourth industrial revolution.

mechanical production: the first industrial revolution

The first industrial revolution: mechanical production

The first industrial revolution dates back to the mid-18th to late 19th century. It corresponds to the use of coal and the invention of the steam engine by James Watt in 1769. It is characterised as an industrial revolution as it transformed artisan manufacturing with mechanical production. During this period, artisan workshops were replaced by factories where the steam engine was used to operate production machines and therefore increase production rates. This was the start of short-run production.

The second industrial revolution: Taylorism

The second industrial revolution arrived at the end of the 19th to late 20th century. It appeared thanks to new, more modern production methods: the use of petrol and electricity. Industry took advantage of these new developments to operate their machines, which became electric. This period corresponds to the boom in Taylorism, assembly line and mass production work.

Taylorism: the second industrial revolution
Toyotism: the third industrial revolution

The third industrial revolution: Toyotism

The third industrial revolution dates from the mid­20th century and is based on information, technology innovations and telecommunications. This led to the implementation of automation. The third revolution yet again modified production factories by adding robots, making the production site more flexible and optimising it in order to allow long production runs. This revolution was made famous by the company Toyota, which ended Taylorism with the Lean system.

The fourth industrial revolution: Industry 4.0

The fourth and final industrial revolution to date emerged in 2011. Industry 4.0 includes technological and digital objects in factories to optimise business activity. Production methods are smarter as all objects, machines and operators in the value chain are linked together. For this purpose, industry 4.0 is based on 8 technologies.

Industry 4.0: the fourth industrial revolution