IIoT, 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain. These are some of the key technologies which according to the consulting firm PwC will turn the reality for companies upside down.
A technological tsunami is rapidly building. We can still only detect the first tremors, but there is a growing rumbling in the underground triggered by a myriad of technological developments taking place at the same time. When the earthquake breaks loose, it will trigger the shock waves that will flush through the industry with unprecedented power and speed. The tsunami is named the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0. It will change the rules for virtually all industries and companies according to a new report Industry 4.0: building the digital enterprise, 2016th from the international consulting firm PwC.
New types of companies will evolve and existing companies will be forced to change their traditional business processes to survive. Those who manage to read the signals in due time faces a bright future, while those who fail to do this are threatened by serious consequences. “It won’t just be the foundations of industries shaking, but the walls will be coming down, as the boundaries between suppliers, producers and consumers and, in some cases, between whole industries shift. We’re already seeing this happening and we foresee that it has much further to run,” says PwC.
IIoT and Industry 4.0 is right around the corner
Internet of Things (IoT) already today ties billions of devices with built-in sensors and intelligence together. This includes washing machines, refrigerators, automobiles, agricultural machinery and drones just to name a few. The web makes it possible for the devices to communicate with each other and with the surrounding world.
Next step is the industrial version of the Internet of Things (IIoT). The network is already developing fast. It connects sensors, software and networks in manufacturing machinery and other industrial equipment, and makes it possible to remotely monitor and control them. In the future the industrial internet will be connected with the supply chain and ultimately with consumers.
“In the coming decade, the development of industrial internet platforms and other platforms that integrate with smart ecosystems is likely to be as significant as the B2C online revolution of the last decade. Automation will play a central role in such systems, and a presence in these platforms will be a vital ‘go to market’ success factor for many companies” says PwC.
Golden expectations from industry to IIoT
PwC has conducted a study that shows that the expectations to benefit economically from IIoT is strong among businesses. The 2,000 surveyed companies expect reduce their annual costs by an average of 3.6 percent during the next five years based on using network-based automation to create internal improvements and closer cooperation in the value chain. At the same time, they estimate their profits grow by 2.9 percent annually by digitising products and services combined with development of new digital services.
3D printing holds huge potential for new applications
3D printing is one of the key technologies that will affect the way products are being manufactured and distributed, says PwC: ”3D printing enables on-site or with-customer production, opening up considerable scope for value-chain disruption and bypassing the need to distribute or transport parts and products,” 3D printing has grown into relatively mature technology. Two out of three US production companies use so today 3D printing in one way or another, but PwC states that the potential of 3D printing reaches far beyond its traditional use. Houses of 3D-printed elements are already being built and in the construction industry 3D printing holds the potential to revolutionize a lot of the methods currently used for the construction work.
“In medicine, 3D printing has a phenomenal potential for the rapid construction of precision individual body parts, implants and devices in a range of biocompatible materials,” PwC points out.
According to a survey conducted by the organization World Economic Forum, 81 percent of respondents estimates that five percent of all consumer products in 2025 will be produced with 3D printing and 84 percent believe that the first fully 3D printed car will be available the same year.
Lowering the cost of trust
Blockchain is the term for a upcoming collaborative technology used for control of financial, contractual and other transactions. Today Blockchain is best known from the bitcoin system. “Blockchain replaces the need for third-party institutions to provide trust for financial, contract and other activities requiring authentication and verification. Trust is in effect distributed along the blockchain,” explains PwC.
According to the consulting firm Blockchain holds the potential to completely transform and streamline security and verification of transactions in many different industries. This applies for instance from bills of lading and custody chains in transportation and logistics to supply chain authentication in manufacturing. “Collaborative technology, such as blockchain, promises the ability to improve the business processes that occur between companies, radically lowering the “cost of trust.” PwC says, adding that there is a catch associated with the use of block chain: “You cannot get the return by yourself; you must be willing and able to collaborate with customers, suppliers, and competitors in ways that you have never done before.”
Machines learns from the users
Machines that learn and become smarter from their experiences are already used today in a variety of areas within various industries. The phenomenon is called “Deep Learning”. Most of us have met Machine Learning in web shops or other services on the Web that use our behavior to give us recommendations of new interesting products. The consulting firm Gartner predicts that half of the big global companies already by 2018 have applied advanced analytics and proprietary algorithms causing the disruption of entire industries.
According to PwC, several other technologies than the above mentioned, will impact the development of Industry 4.0 and influence the way companies work. For example, this applies to new and unprecedented use of robots and drones and Virtual and Augmented Reality to explore virtual worlds or combine virtual objects with the real physical world.