In the years and decades ahead, scientific and technological advances have created radical new ways and means of designing, producing and distributing the fabric of our cities. For example, breakthroughs in nanotechnology have enabled material scientists to replicate manifold biological mechanisms. We can anticipate lifelike materials becoming a common feature of our day-to-day surroundings. Self-repairing materials will extend the life of wide-ranging items. Passive thermoregulation in buildings reduces the need for air conditioning and heating. Amongst other things, superhydrophobicity more or less mitigates the need for cleaning some surfaces.
Many structures will appear more lifelike, both in respect of their engineering and their architecture. In mimicking the composite structure of living materials, such as bone, scientists have equipped designers and architects with the means to create entirely new forms, the construction of which is far more efficient than conventional practice today. Whereas the past several decades saw cities around the world become more uniform in their design and operation, scientific and technological developments point to a more diverse, interesting and individual urban future.
But there is much more to the urban future. Digital transformations, wearables, virtual worlds – today’s possibilities of being digitally connected are more diverse than ever and become indispensable over the entire society. The 21th century is characterized by the transition to ‘society 4.0’. Not only in technology many things are changing, humans and the society transforms, too.
For one volatile markets and global and inter-industrial networks are creating a radically more dynamic market environment which calls for considerably greater on-demand flexibility in resource deployment. Today’s businesses have to respond to evolving trends. As well as increasing flexibility, this also means taking action in two further areas, namely increasing transformability and responding to demographic change.
The increased international interconnectedness of cities, companies and entire industries is leading to ever more intertwined dependencies and is intensifying developments in individual sectors of the economy both vertically and horizontally. One notable example is the coalescence of the finance sector and the real economy and the global effects of this amalgamation on the global manufacturing industry. Manufacturing will also have to adapt to the increasing dynamism of markets and the radical challenges thrown up by the innovation process, particularly in regard to energy and resource efficiency and the increasing hybridization of products using mechatronics, software and services. New approaches are needed to accelerate the product creation process, optimize the transitions from product development to production, and ensure that the cost of manufacturing is competitive. The combination of customer-specific and technically sophisticated products and short innovation cycles forces companies to demonstrate a high degree of dynamism, transformability and customer orientation. The challenge is to find the right balance between optimum quality standards, the ability to deliver products quickly, and a competitive pricing strategy. The centralized process of order planning and scheduling which is still in use today is too sluggish and too costly to achieve this goal.
One development that is providing new opportunities to make manufacturing environments fit for the future within the context of Industry 4.0, particularly in a high-wage countries, is the introduction of cyber-physical systems (CPS). These involve the coordinated application of new sensor and actuator technologies which dovetail the real and virtual worlds into an Internet of Things, Data and Services within the context of smart factories. However, the development corridor of Industry 4.0 goes far beyond the purely technical aspects. The CPS based manufacturing systems of the future need to be understood as highly interactive, socio-technical systems. The use of cyber-physical systems with intelligently networked objects in manufacturing will enable a new quality of flexible working in the future which will constitute tasks distributed in multiple dimensions of time, space and content. Technological innovations remove the dependency on fixed workplaces and work schedules, thereby changing the nature of work both in manufacturing and in knowledge-intensive occupations. Technological innovations will continue to alter products and services and will therefore require workforces to continuously develop new knowledge and capabilities. Information and communications technologies, which are yet to achieve their most revolutionary developments, have a key role to play in future work design strategies. From factories to offices, human-computer interaction is transforming into human-computer cooperation. All this will necessitate new qualifications for employees in manufacturing environments.
In consideration of future employment domains, future workers, student, should be prepared to meet the demands of society 4.0 and industry 4.0 – resulting from a fourth industrial revolution. Based on this technological concept of cyber-physical systems and the internet of things, society and industry 4.0 is characterized by highly individualized and at the same time cross-linked production processes.
The concept of being digitally connected in human-machine-networks is more and more spread over the entire society. Intelligent Cities, eGovernment and quantified-self movements are only some of the key phrases. Physical reality and virtuality increasingly melt together and international teams collaborate across the globe within immersive virtual environments.