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What is Industry 4.0 and How is it Affecting Telecoms?

As technology evolves and digitalisation becomes more of a reality in today’s world, people try to compartmentalise what is happening around them. Current shifts happening in the digital landscapes mean that you’re probably hearing industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution mentioned frequently. But what is Industry 4.0 and how is it already integrated within our lives today? Coming from a telecom point of view, what does this all mean in the context of the telecom sector? In this article we look to answer these questions and shine a little light on industry 4.0.

So, what exactly is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 refers to the transformation of manufacturing as processes become reliant on digital technology. We have come a long way from the first industrial revolution which used mechanisation using power from water and steam. The second industrial revolution resonates with how we began using electricity, moving to Industry 3.0 in which computers became widespread.

But how have we moved on from the third industrial revolution? Today computers are being programmed to communicate and connect in a way which doesn’t involve involvement from humans. Interconnectivity is at an all-time high through the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and machine learning. As physical manufacturing operations cross with cyber processes, day-to-day tasks in industry are changing drastically.

Each move in the industrial landscape represents a way in which the previous standard was disrupted by new technology and advances. Because of the steady progress of smart technologies, artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is now widely agreed that we are currently living in the fourth industrial revolution. These new technologies will change all industries and disciplines by combining physical and digital worlds.

How are new technologies affecting things right now?

Smart machines are already in place in businesses across the world. They can collect a large amount of data and analyse it efficiently and precisely, saving time and costs for the human workforce. Other uses include autonomous equipment which streamline operations and optimising logistics by fixing real-time problems, to name a few.

The Internet of Things is a key part of Industry 4.0 and is growing year-on-year. The IoT refers to everything connected to the internet, namely devices which are connected through automated systems. By connecting to each other through internet connections, these smart devices are creating opportunities for uses at the greatest level of interconnectivity than we have ever seen before.

What changes are happening across the telecom industry?

With the advancements in technology mentioned above, telecommunications currently sit at the centre of Industry 4.0. Many of the advancements have been made directly because of telecom research to continually improve communication with faster speeds and greater connectivity. We are always seeking better and improved technology and because of this, new equipment and devices are being created every day.

New technologies like 5G, Cloud services, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things are helping companies to collect large amounts of data and send it across the world in short times. As convergence of these technologies gets closer every day, telecoms will be able to use them to improve practices and further push innovation.

Sources: Forbes, BusinessWorld

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