The thought is this: the first Industrial Revolution started in England in the 18th Century. Think: mechanical looms.
The second centered on electrically-powered mass production, near the start of the 20th Century. Think: Henry Ford and assembly lines.
The third is electronics and robotics and IT. Think: computers enter the office and manufacturing space.
The fourth is about harnessing, finally, the power of data. It’s about big data and predictive analytics and artificial intelligence, and it includes Smart manufacturing. Early computers did what humans could do, but faster and better. Smart manufacturing puts machines in the business of real decision-making—through calculations outside the range of human capabilities. Think: the data tells us what to do.
Or to state it more dramatically, the computers control the process! While the smartest person in the room is still human (depending on how we define “smart”), machines can tell us things we don’t know and could not figure out on our own.
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