Over the last century we have seen dramatic technological changes, now “Industry 4.0” is set to bring massive changes to the property industry.
What on earth is Industry 4.0 and what were the other 3?
Picture a 19th-century worker with calloused hands and an ailing back, walking in to work on a Monday to find a shiny new water or steam-powered machine, ready to help with the days work. That was Industry 1.0.
Now his 20th century grand-son walks into the now much larger factory to find his coal shovelling days are over now that concentrated power is possible through the invention of electricity. Machines began to get smaller and more portable. We call this Industry 2.0.
If we move forward to the end of the decade, we see that the electrically run machines have inbuilt transistors and circuit chips. The great-great grandson of our original steam engine operator is no longer running the machinery, but is now monitoring it for bugs and operational errors. Computers and automation meant that the entire process of enterprise was optimised and turned on it’s head. We give you Industry 3.0.
Now, we’re back to 2019 and we are at the very beginning of Industry 4.0. This is the point in time where the physical world and the virtual world collide. New technology integration, augmented reality, data analytics, drone technology, machine learning and the internet of things will all begin to play a huge part in the way all industries conduct their operations. The property industry, whilst slightly slower than industries like mining and agriculture, will see operations change forever over the coming decades.
The 4 Principles of Industry 4.0
Over time we will be moving towards the Internet of Everything (IoE). A large component being the Internet of Things (IoT) which you’ve probably already heard of.
The idea of the interconnection principle is that through more and more “things” becoming intelligent through sensors and data analysis, they can then start to connect and interact together, creating the internet of everything will allow for optimisation of operations and innovation in the industry of which it is utilised.
In the property industry, technology like drones and other surveying machinery that will be able to instantly place orders for material or update design software with appropriate measurements will become commonplace.
Principle two refers to emerging technologies ability to make a “digital twin”. Through complex data being fed through various equipment sensors, it is possible to make a digital version of a physical site that has endless applications in the development of property and construction. This would include the planning and design stages.
Current examples include Building Information Modelling and Point Cloud
More so than ever Industry 4.0 will again shift us humans away from being the operators of machinery and tools to the strategic decision makers behind their use. The complex algorithms and analysis capabilities of technology will be an integral part in supporting human decision making on projects.
The final principal is related to the long term applications as machine learning and the IoE become more developed and machinery and other technologies are able to make their own autonomous decisions. We’re already seeing applications of machine learning, but a full integration in property is a little way off. An example of a product already gaining momentum is autonomous self-driven vehicles.
Industry 4.0 Property Applications
Building Information Modelling is already used by many designers and has assisted in the move over to 3D drawings and renders. Currently, these are mostly used as a direct replacement for 2D drawings, designed to give clients a clear idea of what can be expected. In the future, architects, designers and engineers will be developing more complex digital models that can be used by builders in the building process, and in combination with intelligent equipment.
The full application of technology in the building industry isn’t upon us yet but is quickly approaching and it’s clear that those who are able to pick it up as it becomes available, may be able to push ahead of the pack.