By Nan Price, Content Manager, MetroHartford Alliance
It’s official. We have entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What does that mean for industry in Hartford and economic development opportunities throughout our state? A lot of possibility. And a lot of change.
“Connecticut, and specifically Hartford, has a rich history and tradition as home to some of the world’s most innovative and successful manufacturing companies. This is something we take great pride in and is a major factor in putting us on the map as a global market,” says MetroHartford Alliance President and CEO David Griggs.
“But times have changed and so has the industry. The term ‘advanced manufacturing’ no longer reflects the growth and technological advances in this sector or the role Industry 4.0 plays in the economic growth and sustainability of our city, region, and state. As the industry advances, so does the way we must talk about it.”
What role does the MetroHartford Alliance play in industry 4.0? With its mission to serve as an economic development leader and its well-connected audience of community stakeholders, the Alliance is well-positioned to communicate the intent for Hartford to be a world leader in Industry 4.0.
But what exactly is Industry 4.0?
INDUSTRY 4.0 EXPLAINED
Industry 4.0 is the fourth revolution in manufacturing. It describes the ongoing direction of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies.
Beginning in the 1700s, the world has experienced four distinct industrial revolutions:
Industry 1.0 (late 1700s and early 1800s) focused on mechanization. In this era, which began with manual labor, manufacturing began to incorporate water and steam-powered engines to optimize labor.
Industry 2.0 (the early part of the 20th century) was the era of mass production. With the introduction of electricity, manufacturers became more efficient and factory machinery became more mobile.
Industry 3.0 (starting in the late 1950s) was all about computerization. More electricity was used in manufacturing procedures, which evolved into leveraging computer technology in factories. Gradually, manufacturers began giving less attention to analog and mechanization applications and more emphasis to digital technology and automation software.
Industry 4.0 (now!) creates new possibilities to enhance manufacturing with digitalization and technology.
By capitalizing on emerging technologies, Industry 4.0 creates countless ways to combine physical and digital applications. This new industrial revolution has the potential to enhance business efficiency with smart and autonomous systems powered by data and machine learning.
“Industry 4.0 aligns digital and technology advancements over the past 10 to 20 years, including artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, robotics, additive manufacturing, and the internet of things (IoT) to be coordinated and consolidated into an effective way to manufacture in terms of speed, cost, precision, and need,” explains Martin Guay, Vice President, Business Development at Stanley Black & Decker.
ADVANCED MANUFACTURING COMBINES WITH ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is all about connectivity. New, advanced technologies are triggering massive changes and benefits in every aspect of the industry. With the increasing connectivity of operational technology, information technology, and industrial internet of things (IIoT), companies must shift from a ‘How can I isolate?’ state of mind to questioning ‘How can I stay secure while connected?” notes SCADAfence Co-Founder & CEO Yoni Shohet.
“Adopting the right security tools can open doors for industrial transformation, allowing manufacturers to run free and fast, knowing security has an early and continuous role throughout” he adds.
Industry 4.0 also creates new opportunities in additive manufacturing, explains Devra Sisitsky, Executive Director and Founder MakerspaceCT. “Additive manufacturing is going to revolutionize every aspect of our lives from artist to resident to manufacturer,” she says.
“Looking back, we never thought we would have computers or printers in our homes—or we would ever learn word processing software. Looking forward, we know we’ll have 3D printers in our homes, and we’ll have to learn CAD/CAM software. If our salad tongs break, we’ll be able to put it in a 3D scanner, tweak the design, and then print out a new pair. People don’t understand that this is now. It’s not way in the future,” says Devra.
WHAT DOES INDUSTRY 4.0 MEAN FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN HARTFORD?
Already, opportunities to harness Industry 4.0 are taking place in Greater Hartford, with initiatives like The Stanley+Techstars Accelerator, which takes place at Manufactory 4.0, Stanley’s new advanced manufacturing center in Downtown Hartford.
MakerspaceCT will also play an important role for those looking to become involved with Industry 4.0—as a hobby or a potential business. The Hartford-based workspace provides information and access to tools and technology for local inventors, innovators, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, and students.
“With our on-site tools and resources, MakerspaceCT can assist people in creating a business related to additive manufacturing or IoT,” explains Sisitsky.
Overall, Hartford’s legacy in manufacturing dates back 150 to 200 years—with success in many industries, including precision manufacturing, aeronautical, aerospace, and industrial tools.
The Hartford region intends to be a leader in Industry 4.0 because of its legacy in manufacturing and existing leadership in manufacturing. Our state is home to a lot of high-end manufacturing at companies including Pratt & Whitney, Barnes Aerospace, Stanley Black & Decker, General Dynamics Electric Boat, Kaman Corporation, and Pitney Bowes.
“There’s clearly a commitment from the corporate sector and government. Companies can’t do this alone. They need to develop talent inside Connecticut to fulfill these high-tech, non-traditional manufacturing jobs,” says Guay.
“Hartford can be an epicenter—a destination for organizations that want to set up advanced manufacturing or invest in companies leading advanced manufacturing,” he adds.
“The ecosystem needs to be developed around all the things that are needed in the initiative to support Industry 4.0,” underscores Guay. “There’s a large existing base and a strong desire to go to the next step. There needs to be a coordinated effort with all the community stakeholders to get there.”
As an integral community stakeholder, the Alliance can play an important role stimulating interest around Industry 4.0.
“We have all of the assets in place to make Greater Hartford one of the most economically viable manufacturing markets in the world. The resources and leadership we have to support Industry 4.0 will not only foster success but sustain it for generations,” says Griggs. “The Alliance looks forward to working with our community and prospective businesses to ensure long-term economic growth in an industry whose past success here has built our foundation for the future.”
Engineering.com, What is Industry 4.0, Anyway?