With the latest technological innovations dramatically boosting the efficiency and productivity of organizations, the world is experiencing what is called the fourth industrial revolution. The technology breakthroughs in the field of robotics, data science, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and nanotechnology are enabling businesses to gather and analyze data and use cost-effective and faster processes, enhancing their bottom line.
The digital revolution is blurring the boundaries between industries and the digital world, changing the way businesses manage their assets. Several industries, namely aerospace, aircraft manufacturing, automobiles, medical devices, and electronics manufacturing are investing their time and resources in adopting the latest technologies to stay ahead of the competition.
Here are eight powerful technological innovations that are paving the way for significant changes in the industrial world.
1. Industrial IoT (IIoT)
From the agricultural sector to the retail industry, the internet of things is revolutionizing business processes, fostering economic growth and business competitiveness. The infinite industrial applications of IoT (IIoT) are improving the operational efficiency and the productivity while reducing the complexity of the processes.
For instance, in the field of agriculture IoT-enabled smart devices employ sensors and advanced data analytics to inform farmers about the best time to sow seeds, optimizing their crop yield. Similarly, soil sensors measure the pH of the soil and send an alert to the farmers when they sense extreme acidic or alkaline conditions in the soil.
The IoT-enabled systems are being used across various industries for efficient asset management, smart monitoring, supply chain management, remote diagnosis, production integration, inventory management, and predictive maintenance.
2. 3D Printing
The 3D printing or the additive manufacturing technology is enabling industries to print physical objects from 3D models and graphics using materials, namely polymers, concrete, and metal. For instance, architects are using this technology to create 3D concrete models for visualizing their construction projects.
Similarly, medical equipment firms are 3D printing customized hearing aids for patients with impaired hearing abilities. In fact, 98 percent of the hearing aids available worldwide are 3D printed.
Thus, manufacturers can use the additive manufacturing technology to produce anything from medical devices to consumer electronics in a cost-effective and customizable way.
3. Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing business operations, boosting their productivity and efficiency. From robots to voice assistants and chatbots, the AI revolution is empowering human ingenuity to minimize business risks and enhance profitability.
AI aims at teaching machines to think intelligently, empowering them to perform multiple tasks such as recognizing complex algorithms, analyzing information, and using data to draw conclusions with unimaginable precision and pace.
For instance, Waymo, an autonomous car by Google, offers features such as smart navigation, self-parking, detection of obstructions, voice recognition, and blind-spot monitoring to make the driving experience comfortable and safe. Similarly, smart robots are being used to harvest crops, manage warehouse inventory, assist in precision surgeries, and manufacture complex equipment.
AI-powered machines surpass the human computational and analytical speed using intelligent software and systems. The automobile, the banking and finance, the insurance, the healthcare, the manufacturing, the entertainment, the electronic appliance, and the retail industries are employing artificial intelligence to reduce manual efforts and perform tasks efficiently.
4. Big Data Analytics
Business owners, industry influencers, and other prominent stakeholders strongly agree and appreciate the importance of Big Data in the industrial world. In fact, a survey conducted by Gartner, an American research firm, shared that more than three-quarters of global organizations are investing or planning to invest in Big Data in the coming years.
Big data is a huge game-changer for the industrial world, enabling businesses to gain real-time market insights to stay relevant in the existing business environment. For instance, retail banks use Big Data for monitoring the financial market activity, identifying the credit card risks and frauds, and predictive analysis.
Organizations have access to various kinds of data available through company servers, networks, emails, websites, applications, social media pages, and archives. This real-time data can be used to make critical business decisions to improve customer engagement, enhance operational efficiency, and boost the firms’ return on investment.
5. Virtual and Augmented Reality
The virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are shaping the way in which humans interact with the digital world. These technologies are no more restricted to the gaming and the entertainment world. In fact, businesses are using AR and VR to change the manner in which people communicate, shop, and experience the world around them.
Virtual reality offers immersive experiences that allow the user to explore the virtual world (simulation of the real world). For instance, in the event management industry, Paul McCartney launched a virtual reality concert app that enables viewers to experience a 360-degree recording of concerts and performances.
Similarly, in the oil and gas industry, virtual reality enables reservoir engineers to visualize the seismic data in 3D to avoid the occupational hazards when extracting oil from under the ocean floor.
Augmented reality merges both the virtual and the real world to offer relevant insights to the user. For instance, using an AR-enabled device you can explore a new location with useful information popping up in your field of vision.
6. Blockchain Technology
The blockchain is a growing list of blocks or transactions that are linked and cryptographically secure. Thus, digital information related to the economic transactions is public and verifiable.
Bitcoin (an application of the blockchain technology) is a decentralized cryptocurrency that is used for high-volume transactions worldwide. The transaction fees are lower in comparison to the traditional online banking system owing to the absence of a central banking authority or an administrator.
The transaction data stored online is visible to everyone, fostering transparency and trustworthiness within the digital ecosystem. Consequently, the banking, the advertising, the supply chain, the healthcare, the insurance, the real estate, and other sectors are using this technology to accelerate innovation and transform their business transactions.
7. Smart Manufacturing
The advanced manufacturing technology or smart manufacturing is enabling firm owners to apply manufacturing intelligence and automation to every aspect of a business, revolutionizing the global manufacturing segment.
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a smart system is a fully-integrated and collaborative manufacturing system that uses real-time data and the modern technology to meet the changing demands of a manufacturing unit, in the supply network and the market requirements.
Smart manufacturing enables firms to boost the sales, reduce the operational costs, and have an agile supply chain, significantly improving their profitability. In order to stay competitive, firms are investing in a myriad of new technologies, namely smart machines, sensors, and business intelligence systems. Thus, smart manufacturing is enabling manufacturing firms to adopt new ways of operating industrial plants through the intersection of human innovation and technology.
8. Clean Technology
Clean technology (Cleantech) involves adoption the latest technology for implementing sustainable manufacturing practices that improve the productivity, reduce the negative impact on the environment, and preserve the non-renewable natural resources.
With the objective of reducing their carbon footprint and improving their profitability, Cleantech firms are using advanced technology for waste-water purification, eco-efficient production, and renewable energy production. Technology is enabling the energy, the agriculture, the transportation, and the manufacturing sectors to improve their efficiency while creating lesser waste and toxic emissions that adversely impact the environment.
As firms continue to adopt clean manufacturing practices, huge investments, projects, and research and development are expected in this domain, promising a cleaner future and stable economy for all. Firms, namely Apple, Tesla, and Google have been working on harnessing renewable sources of energy as a step towards a clean and renewable future. For instance, Tesla has been investing in its clean energy project, namely Tesla Powerwall that stores solar energy that can be used at night.
Technology is empowering businesses to adopt unconventional and innovative ways to stay competitive and improve their bottom line. The above-mentioned technological innovations will help you appreciate the mounting role of technology in shaping the future of the industrial world.