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Industry 4.0 To Grab The Future

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13th-Feb-2020       
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Liton Chandro Sarkar :
During the last few decades of the 20thcentury, Industry 3.0 was a huge leap forward the advent of computer systems and automation ruled the industrial scene. However, in Bangladesh, we did not quite grab the opportunities that came with Industry 3.0 because of amply available labour and access to limited software. Many Bangladeshi organizers were still stuck in industry 2.5, with their paper-based processes and heavy human dependency. Bangladesh is now all geared up to hurl directly into the next revolution i.e. industry 4.0, where machines will be equipped with the ability to communicate.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 is a level up, a modern insurgency that connects people, processes and machines. The Industry 4.0 is different from earlier revolutions in its breadth, velocity and depth, and its impact on systems. Fast technological changes are likely to bring wide-ranging impacts to the society. For example, we are already witnessing the impact on our daily lifestyle due to smartphones and internet connectivity. Industry 4.0 is a combination of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cyber-physical systems and artificial intelligence, put together to ultimately make machines capable of making decisions with minimal human intervention. The Industry 4.0 will transform existing technologies and capabilities in the manufacturing and production industry. It is an incorporation or amalgamation of traditional manufacturing practices and sophisticated technology. Its intensive on real-time visibility of the complete value chain, thus allowing for better decisions; and recalibration, which leads to greater efficiency and productivity.
These digital technologies enable the democratization of data and allow insights at a wider level. This makes the implementation of Industry 4.0 and its tools easier. The 4.0 vision will not only make machines integrated, but will also establish a connection that will go beyond the manufacturing plant walls. This allows the customer to have an experience similar to what is witnessed while interacting with a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) company, consenting complete visibility of the manufacturing process, even during transit of the shipment. According to a PwC India research and insights study report about Industry 4.0 in South Asia published in 2018, more than 82% of the manufacturing and engineering industry are expecting a greater than 15 percent improvement in efficiency, while over 65 percent of the surveyed respondents expect a 12 percent improvement in additional revenue. Industry 4.0 will also crop the advantage of a faster learning cycle and give an edge to countries like Bangladesh and Indian companies that are competing with legacy producers in Europe and the Americas, which have had a head start.
Though we know the benefits of Industry 4.0, there will also be a set of challenges that the industry will face. Data has become a new currency for many companies. Huge amounts of data from sensors and equipment's have immense value but no value at all if data is inaccurate or not organised well. To unlock value from their assets, manufacturers will need to integrate their Operation & Information Technology and make data easily accessible but secure. They should be able to run Artificial Intelligence (AI) models that can forecast or correlate, ultimately augmenting human decision-making. While companies remain reluctant to invest in new technologies, this revolution cannot be overlooked.
According to consultancy firm Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG), India and Bangladesh currently have one of the worst numbers of formally skilled workforce. In South Korea, for instance, the percentage of formally skilled work force is 96%, while in India and Bangladesh; it is a meagre 4.7 % and 2.8% respectively. China's skilled workforce makes up for 24 per cent of its population, that is almost six times more than India. While on the policy and capital front, Bangladesh need not be worried about much, the biggest problem in Bangladesh today remains its lack of a skilled workforce. The number of trained people that can understand the sophistication of the cutting-edge robotic technology coupled with other technologies like the IIoT and big data is far inferior compared to some other developing and developed countries.
Right now in Bangladesh, there is a need to upskill talent within factories rather than replace them. The most important action is to invest in capability building and cultural change. Upskilling in areas of analytics and digital technologies will prepare the workforce for the changing environment and also make them ready for future learning, thus keeping them relevant.
It is also indispensable to leverage these emerging or fast-growing technologies into the entire enterprise value chain and their external diffusion into inter-organisational supply-chain networks. This would be an effective use of AI and machine learning from real-time data developed from across the value chain, thus providing intelligent insights that would prompt smarter decisions. All of this is not possible without a robust ecosystem of partners, such as start-ups and tech providers, who would develop easy to access and affordable technology to enable this revolution. And academia, which can conduct research and development to further foster the advancement in technology.
The Industry 4.0 revolution is already underway. Organisations that do not embrace it are at a great risk of being disrupted. By 2030, the competitive advantage of business in all industries will be driven primarily by innovations developed in AI. The fourth industrial revolution will allow for new ways to design organisations to operate and it will also transform the way we work. While Bangladesh seems ready to embrace the new industrial revolution, the government of Bangladesh needs to invest heavily in the country's education system and bring the literacy rates to respectable number. Currently, India's literacy rate is a shade more than 74%. That surely has to change. New skills and well-educated workers are essential for optimal implementation and operation of new technologies. Thus, policymakers should prioritise and increase public investment in education infrastructure to effectively deal with the challenges of new technology implementation. It is only then that the fourth industrial revolution would bring about a meaningful change in the lives of Bangladeshis.
(Liton Chandro Sarkar, Deputy Director, Bangladesh University of Professional; e-mail: liton.aioc@gmail.com)

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