What features, and what new elements emerge from the most recent analyses and from the experience of those who have made the future their profession today? What are the main elements of the transformation known as “Industry 4.0”?
These were the questions that dominated the encounter with our institutional stakeholders during the forum we organized in Rome on November 27, under the title “Work in the Future”
The main speakers in this discussion were Marco Annunziata, Chief Economist and Executive Director of General Electric’s Global Market Insights department – in live streaming from the United States – along with representatives of two highly innovative start up companies: Anna Zattoni, Co-Founder & CEO of Jointly, a company specialized in welfare, and Luca Rossettini, Co-Founder & CEO of D-Orbit, a company focused on producing intelligent propulsive devices that remove man-made satellites from their orbits at the end of their operative lifespan.
The moderator of the discussion was Federica De Sanctis, journalist from Sky TG24.
This is by no means the first time this year that our company has made an effort to confront – with the help of Italian Institutions including Universities, Research Centers and Defense and Industry bodies – the issues that remain crucial to the development of shared policies concerning Industry 4.0. In this way we participate in the construction of Europe’s march towards an “industrial renaissance” that will enhance performance in manufacturing, productivity and innovation. And so we join the front line and make our contribution to this choral work of guiding and organizing the process of change. This, of course, is only the beginning of a transformation whose implications we can imagine today, but certainly not fully comprehend.
The scope of this new encounter on the subject was to try to add another point of view by outlining – even if briefly – the impact that this fourth industrial revolution is having on work and employment in terms of new professions, delays to catch up on and new challenges to be faced.
“Imagine a design engineer in a wind farm with a handheld device that tells him which wind power turbine is in need of maintenance– said Marco Annunziata during the discussion. He already has all the replacement parts with him, because the problems have already been diagnosed in advance. If he encounters unforeseen problems, the same handheld device will allow him to communicate with his colleagues in the service department, and allow them to see what he sees, to transmit data that can be analyzed in diagnostic terms. His colleagues can then transmit videos in streaming which will guide him step by step through any complicated procedures that may be necessary to repair the turbine’s machinery and set it working. Their interaction will then be carefully documented and saved in a consultable database. This is the marriage between minds and machines which will optimize resources and systems.
To those who worry about the risk that employees will in future be substituted by machinery and technology, Annunziata replied:
“Innovation is unstoppable, and I know that it can create anxiety, but let me highlight two things: firstly, that we have already undergone the process of mechanization in agriculture, and automation in industry, and both created more employment. And secondly that, just as a child can easily imagine how to use an iPad, so a new generation of intuitive and portable industrial applications will make life much simpler for personnel at all levels and functions. Workers of the future will resemble Iron Man more than Charlie Chaplin in ‘Modern Times’. And new professions will develop.”