Industry 4.0: the result of centuries of manufacturing innovation

We’re in the middle of the fourth Industrial Revolution, and the manufacturing innovation in Industry 4.0 continues to bring new competition to the market. The companies with digitalization in their business processes are flourishing in Industry 4.0.

But most companies are in a different situation: they can’t compete as well as they used to in this fiercely competitive, constantly shifting market. If they don’t get ahead and fast, their end could happen just as fast – one disruptive innovation can change industries faster than ever before. And those that think they’ve conquered the market have the most to lose: since 2000, over half of those in the Fortune 500 have gone bankrupt, been acquired or have utterly vanished.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen. It’s happened in every Industrial Revolution. But to understand where Industry 4.0 fits into historical context, we’ve looked at the crucial moments of manufacturing innovation to see how the market evolved. These innovations transformed industries, and your company can learn a critical lesson before it’s too late: never stop innovating, because those who stop disappear.

In our infographics series, we’ve looked at the first, second and third Industrial Revolutions. Here, we give you a complete look of manufacturing innovation throughout history to help you understand the importance of planning for your future. A free download of the full infographic is available for you at the end of this post. 

Tell us: What do you think is the most important manufacturing innovation of all time?

Infographic_Image1.jpgManufacturing innovation in the first Industrial Revolution: water and steam power, factories, mechanical tools

Infographic_Image2.jpgManufacturing innovation in the second Industrial Revolution: assembly lines, division of labor, electrification, mass production

Infographic_Image3.jpgManufacturing innovation in the third Industrial Revolution: digital technology takes over analog and mechanical technology, IT systems

Infographic_Part 4.pngManufacturing innovation in the fourth Industrial Revolution: automated production, cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, smart factories

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at