The Manufacturing Industry and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

For those of you with a good grasp of numbers, the fourth Industrial Revolution would suggest that there have been three earlier ones. I did have a box of mince pies left over from Christmas for the first person who could tell me what the first three were but unfortunately I ate them!!

The First Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the late 1700s to the early 1800s.  This included the coal, iron, textiles and rail roads and early introduction of machinery, steam power and the rise of the factory system.

Interestingly, George Hattersley, formed in 1789, built one of the first power looms for weaving worsted cloth, previously woven on handlooms – a link to the First Industrial Revolution.

The second Industrial Revolution was borne out of the expansion of electricity, petroleum and steel.

In the late 19th and early 20th century the world became a smaller place with globalisation, new technology, and most importantly electrical power and telephones, resulting in factory electrification and the production line.  The age of the car was born in the 2nd Industrial Revolution, invented by Karl Benz in 1886. One of the earliest Mercedes, a vehicle from 1898 can be found sat in a private collection within 5 miles of Skipton.

The third Industrial Revolution is better known as the digital revolution; this began in the early 1980s and has brought us the personal computer, the internet and information and communication technology – perhaps the best example being your mobile phone.

And finally we arrive at the Fourth Industrial Revolution – 4IR.  This builds on the digital revolution and is marked by technological breakthroughs, robots, Artificial Intelligence, The Internet of Things, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles.  If your businesses are not talking about, working on, or developing plans to embrace 4IR, they may be left behind in a fast moving arena.

4IR is the current talking point for the large, multi-national PLCs, and whilst it appears some way off for smaller businesses, be assured, it isn’t. It is just around the corner and the message is adapt or die!  So I urge any of you who have businesses in the manufacturing sector, talk about 4IR so you don't miss out of opportunities it may bring to your business!

If you have any queries, please feel free to contact me at

If you have any questions or queries about how the fourth Industrial Revolution may impact your business, please get in touch

Contact us

If you like this article and would like our FREE updates sent straight to your inbox then subscribe to our monthly newsletter