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Industrial Revolution 4.0 – as you sow, so shall you reap!

Today we are talking about the fourth industrial revolution. Never before the world has seen so many possibilities and potential threats at the same time. Let’s see what it is and what it has to offer to our future.

INDUSTRY 4.0!

Industrial Revolution 4

Actually, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a way of describing the blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. It is like a hotchpotch of all the aspects like the advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), genetic engineering, 3D printing, quantum computing, and many other technologies.

Think about the GPS system that you use to check the location of the nearest Uber driver or the fastest route to reach your destination, voice-activated virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Assistant, personalized Netflix recommendations, and Facebook’s face recognition to tag you in a friend’s photo! These all are relatable to every modern person, right?

Not only these! The ability to edit the building blocks of life has recently been massively expanded by low-cost gene sequencing and techniques such as CRISPR; artificial intelligence is augmenting processes and skill in every industry.

Neurotechnology is making unprecedented strides in how we can use and influence our brains, the most sophisticated part of the human body as the last frontier of human biology; automation is disrupting century-old transport and manufacturing ideas.

You will be astonished that Oracle research has estimated that there will be 10-million self-driving cars around the world by 2020!

Furthermore, technologies such as blockchain and smart materials are redefining and blurring the boundary between the digital and physical worlds. As a result of this perfect tempest of technologies, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is making the way for transformative changes in the way we live and radically disrupting almost every business sector. It is all happening at an incredibly fast pace.

By the way, there is a person behind the buzzword- ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as 4IR or Industry 4.0! The German engineer and economist who labeled today’s advances as a new revolution is none other than Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum and author of a groundbreaking book called ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

Cutting and sewing offer the biggest hassles in textile manufacturing. Also, the sewing section is the most significant section of a ready-made garments industry. Different types of faults or defects arise in the sewing section which should be reduced to maintain the required quality of apparel. In this sense, artificial intelligence, intelligent hybrid systems, robots and fully automated and intelligent lines will be adopted.

In a 2016 article, Schwab wrote that “like the revolutions that preceded it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world.”

For his prophecies, it won’t be irrelevant to compare him with the character Hari Seldon of ‘Foundation and Empire’, one of the greatest science fictions of Isaac Asimov!

Industry 4.0 and the Textile Industry, two friends walking hand in hand?

Clothing is considered as a basic human need. After food, the question of clothing comes. Not only this, it is actually a form of self-representation, self-respect and a sense of belonging that becomes even more relevant for individuals and social groups.

As this field plays an important role in the Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0 is bound to modify the way clothing is manufactured and used. It must make a fast, flexible and efficient system.

Application of digital sensors and smart tags in manufacturing, supply chain and logistics will offer visibility, flexibility, and control of product flows. Two production models can be stated here:

  1. Smart factory
  2. Mini-factory.

According to SearchERP, a smart factory is a highly digitized and connected production facility that relies on smart manufacturing. The concept of the smart factory is considered to be an important outcome of the fourth industrial revolution. According to Lupine publishers, it integrates stakeholders in a virtual and collaborative environment, while mini-factories are based on demand production.

Industry 4.0 will boost these models to thrive. To make everything smooth, the yarn and fabric production processes will be remotely monitored using QR Code (Quick Response Code) and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification).

Cutting and sewing offer the biggest hassles in textile manufacturing. Also, the sewing section is the most significant section of a ready-made garments industry. Different types of faults or defects arise in the sewing section which should be reduced to maintain the required quality of apparel. In this sense, artificial intelligence, intelligent hybrid systems, robots and fully automated and intelligent lines will be adopted.

Utilization of Failure or quality problems predicting smart machines, organized decision-making process and self-optimization is another scenario for the Industry 4.0.

Technology tends to be incorporated in fibers, yarn, fabrics and clothing in the form of functional materials, which includes biomedical and electronic textiles.

According to Drupa, there are three generations of textile wearable technologies. The first generation is where a sensor is externally attached to clothes. Google and Levi’s smart jacket is a great example. Second generation products embed the sensor in the garment, the sportswear brand Athos is a good example. In the third generation wearables, the garment is the sensor. Here, technology and fabrics merge.

Dr. Nazmul Karim, Post-doctoral Knowledge Exchange Fellow-Graphene at the University of Manchester, National Graphene Institute and his team’s research on ‘Engineering Graphene Flakes for Wearable Textile Sensors via Highly Scalable and Ultrafast Yarn Dyeing Technique’ is a great example of technological advancement of wearable technology.

For buying experience, internet, Virtual and Augmented Reality are bringing the business out of brick and mortar. 3D scanning is providing consumers the opportunity to scan, build a 3D model and begin ordering custom clothing.

Potential threats?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has invoked excitement and fear in equal measure. The inclusive grasp of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning and its effect on autonomous services has raised important questions about the future of jobs in the global economy.

Klaus Schwab predicted that the revolution could lead to greater inequality “particularly in its potential to disrupt labor markets.” Furthermore, the job market may become increasingly segregated into ‘low-skill/low-pay’ and ‘high-skill/high-pay’ roles, which could escalate social tension.

But we should not come to a conclusion so fast. Let’s hear Schwab’s another prediction- “In the future, technological innovation will also lead to a supply-side miracle, with long-term gains in efficiency and productivity. Transportation and communication costs will drop, logistics and global supply chains will become more effective, and the cost of trade will diminish, all of which will open new markets and drive economic growth.”

He also said, “The changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril.”

So, the future is depending on the decisions that we make now! It depends on how we prepare ourselves for the future. We need to remember the proverb ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’!

How should we sow to reap a good harvest?
Well, all the predictions say that there is a huge opportunity for the textile industries to flourish in the upcoming days only if there is a skilled workforce. So there is a great role to play for all the businesses too.

They will need to ensure that they have the right mix of skills in their workforce to keep pace with the changing technology. A study of Salesforce.com shows that 59% of hiring managers believe that AI will impact the types of skills their companies need. Workers will more than likely need to update their skills, not just once but many times throughout their careers.

Ebony Frelix, Executive Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer focuses on upskilling the workers. At Dreamforce,18 she said, businesses and governments need to share responsibility for upskilling workers. It will be important to create nontraditional pathways for building skills.

Tom Puthiyamadam, Global Digital Services Leader with PwC’s Advisory practice, said, “Think about it as a sort of ‘no-man-or-woman-left-behind’ policy,”

“Don’t just hire new talent — because if you do not create an internal environment where they can thrive, they’ll fail. Instead, build a holistic solution.”

Companies need to be thinking about enabling their employees to both codes in new coding languages, but also to change their mix of soft skills.

Zvika Krieger, Head of Technology Policy and Partnerships, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum, said, “As AI begins to impact the workforce and automation replaces some existing skills, we’re seeing an increased need for emotional intelligence, creativity, and critical thinking, for instance.”

So, it can be said that focus on upskilling workers and a culture of continuous learning can save the upcoming days.

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