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Industry is in a constant state of change. In the history of the industrial revolution, we distinguish between four phases, from Industry 1.0 to 4.0. Historically, three phases are already behind us, while the fourth, Industry 4.0, is currently being experienced first-hand. What exactly constitutes an industrial revolution and which technologies were discovered? We embark on a journey through time of industrial developments and start in the 18th century.
Industry 1.0 – The First Mass Production by Machines
The First Industrial Revolution started in England around 1780 and spread to other European countries in the 19th century. In the Industry 1.0 phase, the first mass production was carried out by machines. These were powered by water and steam. The new form of drive increased productivity enormously. Based on this, the mechanical loom and the spinning machine were developed. Other successes of the First Industrial Revolution were the first railway, coal mining and steam navigation. Industry 1.0 replaced traditional forms of work, such as manufacturing and handicrafts, with machines. Banks became increasingly important as many entrepreneurs needed loans for investments.
The Steam Engine
The further development of the steam engine by James Watt revolutionized the working conditions of the time. The steam engine was powered by coal, so factories were no longer tied to natural energy sources such as wind or water mills. From now on, goods could be produced regardless of location or season. With these improvements, the steam engine became economical. It was not only used in mining, but also in industry and transport. The economy was so enormous that more and more factories were built in large cities, creating many jobs. This is how urbanization took its course. In the transport sector, the functions of the steam engine were used for steam locomotives and steamships. This made it possible to transport goods in the shortest possible time and at lower cost. But soon, the steam engine reached its limits because the number of strokes was limited. For a higher output, the steam turbine was invented, which is still in use in some power plants today.
Industry 2.0 (ca. 1870) – Piecework and Assembly Line
The successes of Industry 1.0 led to a population explosion in cities. Numerous workers were now available to be employed in the steadily growing industry. In the 1830s, the early industrialization of Industry 2.0 began.
The introduction of electricity as a driving force was the starting signal for the second industrial revolution. Towards the end of the 19th century, steam engines were replaced by machines powered by electricity. This development also introduced assembly line work. Factory floors could now produce a mass of goods in record time.
The assembly line introduced in 1913 by Henry Ford in car production was particularly influential. Each employee performed only one manual operation, so that the production of individual parts was much faster. Previously, an entire car was assembled at one station. From this time on, cars were produced in partial steps on the assembly line, and this was much faster and cheaper. This development was a revolution on the labor market. From now on, specialized workers were needed. Whether then or now – the shortage of skilled workers has always been an issue.
Communication at office workplaces also developed further. This no longer consisted of letters, but more recently of telephone calls and telegrams, which accelerated many work processes. In addition, the typewriter was further developed and from now on was also used on a mass scale.
In summary, Industry 2.0 saw the beginning of telecommunications, the assembly line revolutionized work in factories and the first automobiles could be produced. Transport also developed further – air and sea transport made it possible to travel across continents. Since that time, Germany has developed into one of the largest industrial powers in the world. Its successes revolutionized not only industry, but many other areas. These developments were the first steps towards globalization – significant for us to this day.
Industry 3.0 (ca. 1969) – Automation through Computers
The first steps in telecommunications and globalization were driven by Industry 2.0, so the third industrial revolution began in the 1970s. In the age of Industry 3.0, the focus was on automation through electrical engineering and information technology. The first beginnings of the technology emerged as early as the 18th century. Charles Babbage, together with Ads Lovelace, created a basis for the individually programmable computer with his Analytical Engine. Further development led to the world’s first functioning devices in 1941. In this year, the German engineer Konrad Ernst Otto Zuse developed the so-called “Z3”. The computer was program-controlled, freely programmable and fully automatic. This was initially only a prototype. It was not until its successor, the “Z4”, was leased to the ETH Zurich that we speak of the first commercial use of a computer. Thereupon, a rapid development began, because the development cycles became shorter and shorter. It was not until the 1970s, as mentioned before, that the age of Industry 3.0 began. Initially, calculating machines were used that could calculate complex formulas fully automatically. Later, these were replaced by the personal computer (PC). The PC was further developed so that it could be used in offices and private households. This was mainly done with the so-called Commodore, which dominated the home computer market in the 1980s and early 1990s. A new industry was born. The first digital giants, such as Microsoft and Apple, were also founded at this time.
Industry 3.0 was shaped by computers and automation and represents the fast pace of life and information technology. The rapid advancement of computer technology made it possible to use PCs in the home or office for the first time. For example, home computers replaced typewriters, which were used in Industry 2.0. The age brought a turnaround in the world of work. In Industry 3.0, too, human work was increasingly taken over by machines
Industry 4.0 (Now) – Digitization and Networking
The end of the 20th century is considered the beginning of Industry 4.0 and builds on the developments of the third industrial revolution. The fourth phase, which continues to this day, is characterized by the introduction of the Internet and thus increasing digitization. Therefore, this period is also called the digital age. With its increasing prominence in the 1990s, the internet has ensured that we live in a completely new world.
Digitization has completely changed the world of production and work. Because in this day and age it is no longer possible to produce goods in stock, but according to actual demand or need. Continuous developments in information processing have made just-in-time production possible.
The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is already integrated into many companies and our everyday lives, and we can no longer imagine life without it. By networking machines or everyday objects with the internet, devices are able to perform tasks fully automatically. Digital networking offers countless possibilities. Already computer-controlled production plants can be expanded through a network connection, creating a digital twin on the internet. Networking leads to an intelligent factory in which systems, components and people communicate via a network and productions almost control themselves.
In addition, classic branches of industry, such as the construction industry, are being digitized. The Building Information Modelling working method, which was only given this name in the 1990s, plays a significant role in this. Buildings can be represented digitally in a 3D model.
Terms such as, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), IT, clouds, self-learning algorithms and Big Data have emerged in recent decades. Compared to the annual intervals of the first and second industrial revolutions, Industry 4.0 has developed rapidly.
What Will the Future Bring?
We are networked worldwide today. Industry 4.0 enables unprecedented efficiency in production. Robots are increasingly being used for production and the further development of technologies does not stand still either. The automation of industry will also continue to transform the labor market. As in every revolutionary phase of industry, the change means jobs will disappear. But at the same time, new occupations are being created.
The industrial revolution represents both an opportunity and a challenge, because technology will increasingly have an impact on our everyday lives. As in the previous industrial phases, social changes become noticeable with a time lag. Technologies are making work arrangements more flexible, because for many it is possible to work from anywhere. Whether from home, in a café or in the office. In turn, with flexibility and technology, work design as it was known in the past has become obsolete. Everyone is expected to be available all the time for consultation or emergencies. The job becomes part of life.
Due to the developments in Industry 4.0, humans are increasingly supported by machines. The inevitable consequence is that fewer workers will be needed for the tasks. But there will be new tasks that can be covered with further training and new apprenticeships. It is important to deal now with the question of what Industry 4.0 means for companies and for one’s own everyday life. How can you best meet the new challenges and use the opportunities to your own advantage?
We support you and make our contribution to Industry 4.0 by helping to further digitize the construction industry. We have also set ourselves the goal of supporting companies with digitalisation. Request your personal consultation here and let us advise you. We will be happy to assist you when it comes to the digitalisation of your buildings!