Autonomy. The Dawn of a New Era for Industry
Consider a world where everything just... works. Where vehicles follow logical rules all by themselves to move us and our freight with maximum efficiency, released from the unpredictable, complicating variables of human fallibility. Where factories process and output at peak, optimal performance, all by themselves. No spikes. No dips. Just drama-free consistency. Plus: they learn. They adapt. They thrive.
And also now imagine this same world where all the energy for this is created and supplied by power plants that operate <in exactly the same way>. This is not industrial automation. This is what's next. This is the world of autonomous operations - a brand new era. And it's a key part of what ultimately comprises the Fourth Industrial Revolution - also known as 4IR and Industry 4.0. And here's the rub: with it, comes an estimated value-creation potential for manufacturers and suppliers of $3.7 trillion by 2025.
Autonomous operations empower your plant to run, learn, adapt and thrive in tomorrow's environment. Assets and operations have human-like learning and adaptive capabilities. These allow them to respond without operator interaction to situations within a secure, bounded domain that were not pre-programmed or anticipated in the design and is responsible for all safety-critical functions. Again: they learn. They adapt. And they thrive.
Introducing autonomy does not eliminate human work. Rather, humans can shift to high-value-added activities. And as autonomy operations progress, both plant/factory and humans can feel secure, and a safe environment can be realized.
The fast-approaching cliff edge of what's called 'The Great Crew Change' predicts a mass exodus in skills
Autonomy is defined as the freedom to act independently. What does it mean if we talk about autonomous technologies leading us towards an "autonomous economy"? Consider the existing economy as "smart": it's IT-enabled, it is driven by human decision, and it has semi-digitally integrated technology (such as algorithmic trading in financial markets). For the autonomous economy, IT is in the driving seat. Platforms are connected, continuously self-monitor, learn and adapt. It's the difference between a traditional combustion engine car with adaptive cruise control (smart), and an electric vehicle that drives you (autonomous). One of those is waiting to be a footnote in history. The other? The future.
At this point - today, right now - everyone is at a different stage along the road to automation.
Some are behind even the automation curve, still lingering at the beginning with semi-automated. Error prone. Inefficient. Others are a step ahead of it, with semi-autonomous: decision-making through advanced data analytics, coordinated operations and partially predictive maintenance. Beyond that? Autonomous orchestration: improved coordination among autonomous assets and between automated and autonomous operations.
And some - but not many - are already at the cutting edge. Guided by artificial intelligence, and improved coordination between all assets that's accelerating them into the future. The time for autonomy is upon us all, enhancing our efficiency, enabling us to focus on high value-added activities.
So the question is: which car are you in?