I’m Steven Naylor and I’m a senior scientist in HSE Science Division, working within its Data Analytics team, and an Associate Director on the Discovering Safety Programme, technically leading a number of the projects being delivered as part of the programme, including the Industry 4.0 and safety project. I’m very passionate about realising the potential for new and emerging technologies, to improve health and safety in industrial workplaces. The portfolio of research I lead is very much focused on maximising the opportunities and addressing the challenges. My specialist area of technical expertise is in the application of data analytic techniques, including data mining for knowledge discovery, text mining and natural language processing, and predictive analytic techniques, to generate intelligence from disparate multi format data sources to inform organisational decision-making.
This series of six blogs considers key implications of the industry 4.0 revolution for health and safety, and practical challenges likely to be faced by organisations when looking to exploit industry 4.0 technologies to deliver improvements in operating performance, including health and safety performance. This blog, the first in the series, looks to introduce industry 4.0 as a concept and sets the scene. Future blogs will then consider key opportunities and challenges in more detail. The potential for use of industry 4.0 technologies in parallel with artificial intelligence to magnify the opportunities for better health and safety, but also to lead to new risks requiring control, will also be considered.
The 4th industrial revolution, often termed industry 4.0, the name given to the emergence in use of a suite of technologies originally in the manufacturing sector and now across many other industry sectors, is revolutionising industrial operations in workplaces. This article considers some of the key implications of the industry 4.0 revolution for health and safety, and key practical challenges in exploiting the technologies to deliver improvements in organisational health and safety performance.
Core industry 4.0 technologies, which include smart sensor networks, wearables, positioning and smart mobile devices, advanced algorithms, enterprise IT systems, cloud computing and wireless internet, are transforming how workers, equipment and processes interact in industrial workplaces. Used in combination with other industrial technologies designed to physically action specific tasks, such as robots, cobots, 3D printers, autonomous vehicles, aerial drones, exoskeletons, process control systems and AI and advanced algorithms, they are enhancing the delivery of complex process operations through the seamless, end-to-end delivery of the individual component tasks that make them up. These include tasks both of a cognitive and a physical nature; in the past, delivery of such tasks would have had a significant human and often manual component; in the era of industry 4.0, such tasks are technologically supported and often fully automated.