5 minutes with Infosys’ Ruchir Budhwar on Industry 4.0
Talk me through the industrial revolutions over the years?
When we talk about Industry 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and so on, what we’re referring to are the various step changes - or rather significant evolutions - that have taken place throughout history. Industry 1.0 refers to the very first industrial revolution, which began in the 1780s. The period became defined by mechanization, due to advances made in industrial production that was powered by steam and water. These advances led, of course, to the manufacture of the first steam train in 1804. A century later, in the late 1800s came Industry 2.0 and the electrification of manufacturing. As the name suggests, electrical power revolutionized production methods and brought in the advent of the assembly line, which enabled mass production.
Fast forward to the 20th century, the arrival of computers and electronics spurred Industry 3.0. Causing a huge shift in manufacturing - and indeed society as a whole – the proliferation of the internet during the 1970s and 1980s meant that automated production was made possible for the first time ever. The whole world could connect with each other and knowledge sharing and industrial advances accessible to all for rapid adoption. Ever since then, huge advances have been made on these technologies, and since the early 2010s, we’ve been in the midst of further digitization under Industry 4.0. This era has been concerned with the development of enterprise-grade cloud computing which, among many other benefits, has made digital power and agility accessible for all at much higher efficiency. Today I believe we're at the cusp of a fifth digital revolution, which will largely be driven by artificial intelligence (AI), sentient systems and ever adapting living enterprises.
So what technology is involved when it comes to industry 4.0?
There are in fact several technologies involved in Industry 4.0, and they continue to develop as we speak. They stem from cyber-physical systems - which comprise various interacting digital, physical, and human elements – and together make up a range of disruptive technologies which provide users intelligent, integrated, informed, and instrumented solutions. Some examples include AI, 5G, big data processing methods, machine learning, digital twin technology – which uses data to create a simulation that can predict how a product or process will perform – autonomous robotics, among many others.
Data is one of the vital pieces of puzzle in Industry 4.0. There are a vast number of sensors out there, for every human interaction point. Organizations that have developed the ability to draw insights from these data sources will be far better placed for strategic business decision making.
On the manufacturing shop floor, Infosys created a solution to support an automobile production facility to reduce the cost of maintenance and production significantly with Industry 4.0 solutions. Sensors were used to send and receive real-time data and were connected to decision making processes at the edge to estimate and extend the useful life of machine tool spindles. The underlying engineering analytics helped predict life at 95% accuracy.
As we’re said to still be in the midst of industry 4.0, these technologies continue to develop and evolve, and we can expect further advances to be made over the next 5-10 years. For this reason, one of the most exciting things about Industry 4.0 is that so much of its potential remains to be seen.
How has Industry 4.0 adoption been affected by COVID-19?
In my view, the current pandemic is liberating manufacturing and production companies to experiment with radical new ideas. Firms are coming up with new ways to manufacture products despite disrupted supply chains, or, as demand for existing products collapses, design new ones.
The pandemic has forced businesses and organizations across industries to move their day-to-day operations online and, as a result, many have sought to accelerate their digital transformation. By providing users the ability to continue – or even refine – their operations whilst working remotely, Industry 4.0 has grown in prominence amongst businesses and organizations looking to digitally transform over the last year. A recent survey indicated that a lot of businesses are leveraging Industry 4.0 solutions for increased end-to-end supply-chain transparency to respond to external disruptions.
One other interesting trend brought on by the pandemic is that manufacturing firms are increasingly realizing the need for rapid and radical innovation in both operating and business models. In this context, we have been working with the Advanced Manufacturing and Production Community at the World Economic Forum to try and answer some of these questions, which culminated in the publication of a whitepaper on the topic. e, we believe that the future belongs to those who are able to manage uncertainty and innovate rapidly.
Ultimately, the coming months present a crucial opportunity for businesses to get ahead with tools like AI, which expected to drive the next industrial revolution. As part of this effort, a strong governance mechanism should be in place for AI-enabled systems, alongside adequate training and awareness programs for employees at all levels. If enterprises fail to develop their AI frameworks now, they could soon run into serious trouble with regulators, and risk falling behind amongst their competitors
Timeline: Tesla's Construction of Gigafactories
Tesla's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy
Founded in 2003, Tesla was established by a group of engineers with a drive to "prove that people didn’t need to compromise to drive electric – that electric vehicles can be better, quicker and more fun to drive than gasoline cars." Almost 20 years on, Tesla today is not only manufacturing all electric vehicles, but scaleable clean energy generation and storage too.
"Tesla believes the faster the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emission future, the better," says Tesla. "Electric cars, batteries, and renewable energy generation and storage already exist independently, but when combined, they become even more powerful – that’s the future we want. "
In order to deliver on its promise of "accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy through increasingly affordable electric vehicles and energy products," Tesla's Gigafactory journey began in 2014 to meet its produciton goals of 500,000 cars per year (a figure which would require the entire worlds supply of lithium-ion batteries at the time).
By ramping up its production and bringing it in-house, the cost of Tesla 's battery cells declined "through economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimisation of locating most manufacturing processes under one roof." With this reduction in battery cost, "Tesla can make products available to more and more people, allowing us to make the biggest possible impact on transitioning the world to sustainable energy."
2014: Giga Nevada and Giga New York begin construction
Born out of necessity to meet its own supply demand for sustainable energy, Tesla began the construction of its first Gigafactory in June 2014, in Reno, Nevada, followed by its Buffalo, New York facility the same year. "By bringing cell production in-house, Tesla manufactures batteries at the volumes required to meet production goals, while creating thousands of jobs," said Tesla.
2016: Reno, Nevada grand opening
Tesla’s construction of Giga Nevada came to an end in 2016, the first of its Gigafactories to complete its construction project. The factory’s grand opening took place in July 2016, and by mid-2018 reached an annual battery production rate of 20 GWh, which made it the highest-volume battery plant in the world that year.
2017: Giga New York begins production
Two years after Tesla’s second Gigafactory began construction, Giga New York was complete, and started its production operations in 2017.
2019: Giga Shanghai construction to production in record time
In 2019, Tesla selected Shanghai as its third Gigafactory location. The company constructed the factory in record time, taking just 168 working days from gaining permits to finishing the plant's construction.
2019: Giga Berlin begins construction
Announced in November 2019, Tesla began the construction of its first European Gigafactory in Berlin. The Gigafactory is still under construction.
2020: Giga Texas begins construction
The following year in August 2020, Tesla began the construction of its Giga Texas factory. The company’s third Gigafactory in the US is still under construction.
2021: Giga Texas and Giga Berlin expected completion of construction
Looking to the future, Tesla expects to complete the construction of its Giga Texas and Giga Berlin factories in May 2021 and July 2021 respectively.