The History of Industrial Machinery & the Emergence of Industry 4.0

By: | August 11th, 2016

The Museum of Industrial History (NMIH) opened this summer in an old Bethlehem Steel building in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. NMIH is a collection of machines, engines, printing presses, and other industrial artifacts that trace the history of the achievements, innovations, and entrepreneurs that made the United States a leading global power.

Envisioning the Industrial Future

Industrial machinery is a general term and refers to industrial machines and industrial processes including heavy equipment, hardware, industrial processes, machinery, machine tools, and more. Industrial machines are used in agriculture on assembly lines, by industrial robots, and in oil refineries, packaging and labeling, paper mills, sawmills, and smelters, among others.

The design, manufacture, and use of industrial machinery has been changing significantly over the past 50 years with new design, simulation, and visualization, as well as automation that improves product quality, saves time, reduces expenses, and increases performance.

Another big change in industrial machinery is that these days it’s designed and produced all over the world. For example, traditional manufacturing centers such as the United States, Germany, and Japan are now in stiff competition with South Korea, India, and the Philippines.

The New Age of Intelligent Resources and Products

The future of industrial machinery and Industry 4.0 will be characterized by the following:

  • Perfect networking and perfect organization in which all elements of the production process are connected.
  • New communications in which all aspects of a production process are monitored, data produced, and information collected.
  • All remote actors in the production process will be remotely managed and monitored so that orders for products are most optimally and efficiently designed, manufactured, and delivered.
  • Products will be programmed to “know” the next step of a manufacturing process and communicate with machinery that will carry it out.
  • Swarm intelligence will be leveraged to make manufacturing more efficient and faster.

Following is a video explaining Industry 4.0.

David Russell Schilling

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