We talk about the transition to smart factories as the 4th Industrial Revolution, producing a vision of a brave new world of more highly evolved systems. Something good, in other words.
New Equipment Digest sees it another way. The Industrial Revolution, they say, brought workers off of the farm and into the factory, without much increase in wages or improvement in quality of life. Wealth was created, but not among the laborers.
That’s true. The first generation or two affected by the 1st Industrial Revolution and the rise of factories saw nearly unlimited power among factory owners, hellish working conditions, 10 and 14 hour workdays for children and adults alike, and the end of a relatively leisured way of life that centered around skilled artisanship and festive harvest times.
Was this the fault of the machinery? Obviously not. Wars, a complete lack of regulation, and brutal treatment of workers by other human beings created the difficult transition into industrialization.
The advent of mass production, assembly lines, and electric power led to the rise of the middle class, widespread access to cheap consumer goods, and the misery of repetitive work on the line. Computers and automation rescued workers from the hard work of low skilled factory jobs, reduced prices of goods, and increased productivity and worker safety. It also led to outsourcing, fewer factory jobs, and a generation of college-educated baristas.
In every case, it’s the human response to the potential for exploitation of other human beings that has brought the negative side effects along with the benefits of technology. We don’t need evil robot overlords to enslave humanity; we do it ourselves.
Will Industry 4.0 be different? We hope so.
In the meantime, we can help if you have any problems with your Rexroth electric motion control. Contact us for immediate assistance.