During the first industrial revolution, Manchester played a key role so seems a fitting place to talk about the fourth. Not knowing much about industry 4.0 I went to Future Factories Expo & Industry 4.0 Summit to see what its all about.
The Future Factories Expo & Industry 4.0 Summit was a two-day event. I attend the expo on the first day. I didn’t attend the summit because it was far too expensive at £595 for one day and £795 for two. Also, there is VAT on top of those.
However, the expo offered a much better value proposition being free. As well as the stands there was also a programme of talks.
What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, is all about increased automation and data exchange within manufacturing. However, the expo and talks focussed mainly on technology and manufacturing.
It turns out that many companies have been doing it for decades. This probably because the talks were delivered by the companies displaying at the expo. The talks within the summit may have been more illuminating on the future. But the expo was more evolutionary rather than revolutionary. It would have been nice if there was a few more future or wider concept talks for the expo. This may well have been the focus of the summit.There were also round tables organised which I did not attend as I didn’t think I’d be able to contribute much to them.
There were also round tables organised which I did not attend which were more focussed on the future and making it happen. I didn’t think I’d be able to contribute much to them not knowing too much about industry 4.0.
What about the other three industrial revolutions? The first started in in the late 1700s after the invention of the steam engine. The second was a period of rapid industrialisation and the rise of the assembly line. The third was the automation and computerisation of manufacturing.
What caught my eye at the Future Factories Expo?
Industry 4.0 for SMEs
One of they free talks was from Cimlogic. They talked about their process for getting companies ready for industry 4.0. Rout4.0, as they call it, is based on the DIKW pyramid. Also, it can be applied to small- & medium-sized companies who don’t always have to same amounts to invest as larger ones.
A digital twin is a ritual copy of a real product or asset. Spearhead Interactive have recreated the building they are in so it can be explored and manipulated in real time. And that is just what they did when presenting. It can also be used with VR headsets. This allows them to do all sorts of cool things like making the transparent and highlighting the heating the system, or conducting accessibility audits for people in wheelchairs.