What is Industry 4.0?
The Greater Pittsburgh region’s strong history as a center of steel, aluminum, and titanium has resulted in advanced manufacturing capabilities in primary metals, metals fabrication, machinery, and other components of a metals manufacturing sector. The region remains one of the highest concentrated in the country in primary metals, with employment that is 4-times more concentrated than the rest of the nation. It is also a major force in U.S. exports, with $2.1 billion in primary metals exported each year, making Pittsburgh the 6th largest metal exporting city in the country. Moreover, the integration of metals manufacturing with the advanced materials manufacturing sector, which is also highly concentrated in jobs compared to the U.S. (for example, ceramics, glass, and coatings), the Pittsburgh metals-materials linkage has become a foundation of American industry.
The metals and materials sector in the Greater Pittsburgh region stretches from Pittsburgh to Johnstown, PA and to Morgantown, WV, a community with a population of just under 3 million people, and 1600 firms with 63,000 well-paying jobs. Our strong history as a center of metals continues today with exceptional supplier networks; world class research facilities; rich and abundant energy resources; a robust system of river, rail and road infrastructure; and demonstrated success in public-private partnerships.
Industry 4.0 is short for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The first industrial revolution began in the 1700s when water and steam power were used to make products. The second industrial revolution was ushered in the late 1800s with electric powered machinery and Henry Ford’s assembly line process to mass produce goods. The third industrial revolution started in the last half of the twentieth century with computers and automated technology.
Industry 4.0 began at the turn of this century and is driven by the convergence of nine advanced manufacturing technologies: Autonomous Robots; Simulation; Horizontal and Vertical System Integration; Industrial Internet of Things; Cybersecurity; The Cloud; Additive Manufacturing; Augmented Reality; and Big Data and Analytics. It marries advanced production and operational techniques with digital technologies to create a Smart Factory that is not only interconnected and autonomous, but also communicates, analyzes and uses data to drive intelligent action back in the physical world. It is about more than just production though. It is also transforming the companies themselves and the skills that their workers need. Nearly all jobs will require the ability to interact with the new technology. There is also more need for workers to utilize: problem-solving, creativity, communication skills and project management.
It’s not a question of if Industry 4.0 is coming, but how quickly it will impact Southwestern Pennsylvania and the companies and the people who work here.