Industry 4.0 or fourth industrial revolution refers to the concept of factories in which machines are augmented with wireless connectivity and sensors, connected to a system that can visualise the entire production line and make decisions on its own. For instance, you can be at work and check on your child at home with a video app on your smartphone with the help of internet of things. This key idea is driving the new industrial revolution.
According to Sagar Kamarthi, a professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the Northeastern University, people working in this industry are struggling to keep up with the skills new machines require. Thus, with the revolutions happening in other fields, we need to be prepared. Otherwise, we will be far behind every industrialised country. Hence, a team of Northeastern researchers led by Kamarthi is developing courses to help people working in manufacturing to modernise and retool their skills. They have received a grant of $2 million from the National Science Foundation. Kamarthi will direct the Integrative Manufacturing and Production Engineering Education Leveraging Data Science program to develop and test training tools and programs over the course of three years. Several other researchers from data science, digital learning, and manufacturing engineering at the Northeastern University will assist them. The courses will be available through online classroom systems to professionals in manufacturing, free of cost. Northeastern students, staff, and working professionals will also have access to the coursework and certificates applied to data science and smart manufacturing.
Kamarthi also develops algorithms that make it easier for machines to diagnose their own systems for errors and predict future failures. Thus, he believes that these algorithms can be applied to other fields, particularly healthcare and medicine. The key is to diagnose based on changes in the vibrations or other signatures that components in a machine generate to predict its health condition. Then one can plan to replace it timely, and we can avoid catastrophic failures in the operation of machines.
“Industry 4.0 is a brand-new technology, so it is not reasonable to expect people who entered the workforce 15 or 20 years ago to be knowledgeable about it. However, they need to be, because that’s where the field is going, how technology is going to change”, he says.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman