Relevance of the 4th Industrial Revolution to Industry

The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) has been a buzzword for the last ten years but various businesses and public sectors in some developing countries seem generally unperturbed. In understanding what the 4IR is, it is key to explore what the first three revolutions were all about.

The first 3 Industrial Revolutions

The proponent of the First Industrial Revolution was based on how production was mechanised by water and steam power. This was the age of boilers in production plants and steam locomotives. The Second Industrial Revolution used electrical power to enable the mass production of goods. The Third Industrial Revolution rode on the use of electronics and Information Technologies to automate production.

Technologies involved in the fourth industrial revolution

4IR calls for digital transformation that is, re-imagining the use of digital technologies to create new, or modify existing business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. It involves synergies between digital technologies, biology, and physical systems. Mpoeng Mpoeng describes the 4IR as ‘simply the integration and connection of all our processes, systems and technology using advancements such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, virtual reality, 3D printing, and many others. Similar to the previous revolutions, 4IR will significantly disrupt our status quo and business as usual at the government, company, and individual levels.


The 4IR is marching on and is bringing about significant disruption to all in its path. 3D printing in the construction Industry, a typical four-bedroom house can be printed within forty-eight hours at a fraction of the cost of a conventional construction model.


The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing the maintenance of plants and equipment by utilising sensors on these pieces of equipment to predict possible times and points of failure. The data provided by the sensor allows organisations to do predictive maintenance, which in turn reduces downtime. IoT smart farming technologies in particular can have the greatest impact on enhancing productivity for farmers and growers. IoT sensors and GPS devices are used in smart farming to track and monitor vital agricultural components such as soil moisture, temperature, humidity, water tank levels, vibration, carbon dioxide, livestock tracking, beehives, equipment, and more.


The 4IR is delivering disruption and no industry will be spared. In some countries the impact is immediate but in some, it seems to be taking its sweet time. The fact is, 4IR is inevitable and businesses must align or sink. Imagine the havoc that 3D printing will cause to the construction industry once fully adopted globally. ADOPT and avoid becoming another KODAK!


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