The Fourth Industrial Revolution or ‘Industrie 4.0’ is forever changing the world of manufacturing and automation. To keep pace with global trends, South Africa must invest in education and innovation, experts say.
Speaking ahead of the Africa Automation Fair and Connected Industries conference to be held in Johannesburg next month, industry stakeholders noted that the paradigm shift being forced by Industrie 4.0 will demand that South African industries ‘unlearn and relearn’ in order to stay relevant.
The Fourth Industrial revolution builds on the Third – the digital revolution – and is characterised by the fusion of physical, digital technologies and the biological worlds. Industrie 4.0 is evolving at an exponential pace, starting with the industrial internet and manufacturing, and spreading to impact industries across the board.
The European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s diplomatic service and partner of the Africa Automation Fair, believes that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will demand the mass upgrading of the digital skills of workers. Massimo De Luca, head of trade and economics at the delegation of the EU to SA, says: “Industrie 4.0 will create a shift from mass production to customised and creative solutions. Innovation and creativity will be key. Emphasis on education all the more necessary.”
Oratile Sematle, President of Africa Automation Fair partner the Society for Automation, Instrumentation, Measurement and Control (SAIMC), says: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution/ Internet of Things is reshaping the face of industry, connecting everything to everything and leveraging on the emerging computing capacity to automate industries.”
He notes there is a growing focus on the emerging concept of the ‘innovation zero’, a concept that encapsulates the innovative solutions that are demanded by emerging socioeconomic forces, punctuated by a sense of morality and common good. “These are innovative solutions that seek to achieve for example, zero waste/emissions (e.g. petrochemical industries), zero defects (e.g. manufacturing), zero breaches of security (e.g. cyber security), zero accidents (e.g. self-driving vehicles) etc. These are areas of business that require a greater paradigm shift in the space of automation. For example it is expected that self-driving cars will dominate the transportation industry as early as 2025,” Sematle says.
As a catalyst and the driving force behind transformation of the automation industry, SAIMC is focusing on priorities including seeking the registration of automation as a separate engineering discipline; working with tertiary institutions to align education and training to the needs of industry; and working with SABS in customising industry standards for the South African environment in a changing landscape.
Hanli Goncalves, conference director of the Africa Automation Fair and Connected Industries conference, says South African stakeholders must adapt in line with the Industrie 4.0 revolution.
“Industrie 4.0 is changing the face of industry and is a key topic across the US and Europe at the moment. To help fast-track change locally, we are bringing leading European experts to South Africa to update South African public and private sector players, large manufacturing and processing plants, and the petrochemical, automotive and mining sectors on Industrie 4.0 trends and best practice internationally.”
Africa Automation Fair and the Connected Industries conference have been endorsed by, and secured the participation of, a significant number of local and international industry bodies, as well as the South African Departments of Trade and Industry and Science and Technology. Representatives of the Department of Science and Technology, the European Union Embassy and Chamber of Commerce; the German Embassy and Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Black Management Forum; the Universities of Pretoria and Johannesburg; industry bodies and leading enterprises will participate.
The Africa Automation Fair and Connected Industries conference will be staged alongside Pollution and Waste Technology Africa from 6-8 June 2017 at the Ticketpro Dome in North Riding. It will focus on the changes wrought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, assessing its global impact, the technology and infrastructural requirements behind the revolution and the impact it will have on efficiency and quality.
Entry to the exhibition area is free to visitors who register before the end of May; while Africa Automation Fair conference seats and tables at the gala dinner may be booked online at http://www.reedexpoafrica.co.za/AfricaAutomationFair/
For more information about the Connected Industries conference, to register, and to download the programme, please visit http://www.reedexpoafrica.co.za/ConnectedIndustries/