1 February 2020
What do a mechanical loom, an electronic controller and the internet have in common? They each represent a different industrial revolution humanity has experienced.
The first revolution was mechanics-based, the second was based on electricity and the third on electronics. The fourth revolution, aptly named Industry 4.0, is based on the internet. More precisely, it is based on three fields which have greatly developed during this past decade: digitation, the Internet of Things and cyber.
Merging advanced technology has led industries to establish "smart factories", based on the following elements:
Smart production: digitizing means of production in factories, including automation, big data analysis, simulation tools (for planning production processes), etc.
The Internet of Things (IOT): virtual communication between physical objects, i.e. different devices in the factory. The connection between the components of the broad operation system enables the collection and analysis of information to improve the control of devices, components and means of production. We can detect our flaws and act upon them based on the accumulated information.
Cyber protection: The connection of various components into one network and enhancing the use of automation has increased our need to protect our systems from external threats.
Industry 4.0's management approach is based on a number of principles:
Maximal flexibility of production lines which allow them to adapt to the frequently changing market
Saving time and resources during the planning stage by simulating the production line or product
Saving time and resources during the production stage: automation processes replace human workers previously tasked with arduous, dull work. Workers thus evolve into "knowledge workers".
How will these affect the field of Knowledge Management?
Generally speaking, technological developments require focused expertise, which lead to more unique, professional knowledge of higher value. The knowledge retaining process, in turn, gains more value subsequently. The fast development rate and the demand for flexibility requires the organization to implement changes highly frequently and efficiently. This is where Knowledge Management can provide support.
Technology will never replace people, yet it will affect work processes, the knowledge and information workers require and the rate of processes involving the development, sharing and flowing of knowledge.
It is essential for knowledge managers to be familiar with the new technologies that will affect our industry in the near future, including IOT, Big Data, AI and Augmented Reality. These tools can support work processes (first and foremost: data flowing processes) regarding their development and intelligent use of organizations.
Human-Centred Dissemination of Data, Information and Knowledge in Industry 4.0