First, there was the Internet of Things and M2M. Now there's Industry 4.0, a social and technological revolution destined to change the industrial landscape. But what has to be worked through before 4.0 is a reality on the manufacturing scene? Interoperability, security, the management logistics involved with complex systems, amazing software to control the whole process, and standards to glue it all together, to name just a few.
Here's where you come in. If you want to work on Industry 4.0 -- the fourth wave of the Industrial Revolution -- you might consider moving to Germany. If you're thinking this is too early in the development, think again.
The Bosch Plant Homburg is connecting multiple partners in the logistic value chain with an RFID-based automotive network. Dr. Karl Tragl, chairman of the executive board at Bosch Rexroth AG, explained his division's 4.0 progress in a press release:
Bosch Rexroth has built the bridge between automation and IT world with the new interface technology of its Open Core Engineering and has opened the control core for extended access at the same time. Machinery manufacturers can therefore independently program new software functions in a number of languages. At the same time, Open Core Engineering closes the gap in the data exchange of production and company IT.
Bosch is not alone. At the Hannover Messe 2013, Siemens described its commitment to Industry 4.0, especially in the realm of industrial IT and software, where it has spent more than €4 billion ($5.44 billion) to bolster its capabilities. It also purchased LMS, a Belgian company specializing in the test and simulation of mechatronic systems that will eventually provide a single integrated database for customers to simulate, test, optimize, and manufacture products.
Many other companies, including Fraunhofer IOSB and Weidmuller, are at the forefront of this effort.
A recent report from Acatech, the National Academy of Science and Engineering, describes why the market is ripe. Given today's embedded systems and wireless connectivity, there's a convergence of the physical and virtual worlds. Combine that with IPv6, whereby addresses are sufficiently plentiful for universal networking of smart objects, and sensors are able to monitor, measure, and provide meaningful data in real-time, it's finally possible to network resources, data, objects, and people. Using the IoT and services, networks can be created to incorporate the entire manufacturing process, from digital smart machines to warehouse systems and production facilities, featuring end-to-end information and communications technology integration.
This a serious undertaking backed by Germany and its universities, corporations, and research arms. And there seems to be a large number of vacancies in mechanical, automotive, and electrical engineering. If you want to check how to obtain verification of your qualifications, click here. The site is in English. Immigration policies and labor shortages can be reviewed here.
Advances in automation, robotics, and integration have certainly been evident over the past several decades, but it sure looks like the next several years hold unprecedented opportunity. Maybe it's time to look into where in the world your talents can best be used.