Aging Workforce Will Drive Internet Of Things Progress

By Alain Louchez Here are some cold, hard demographic facts. The population of some manufacturing powerhouses is projected to shrink between 2010 and 2050 — Japan (-15%), Germany (-13%), and Italy (-1%), for example. Other countries’ populations will increase only marginally, such as China (+2%) and Korea (+5%). At the same time, these countries will be crunched by their worsening “dependency ratio.” The share of the population, such as retirees and dependents, relying on those at work will dramatically increase in the years ahead, the Pew Research Center reports. How does this connect to the Internet of Things and related smart manufacturing tactics? These people-pinched countries already are rapidly transforming their manufacturing sectors with industrial automation, and they are among the early adopters of IoT capabilities. One indication of this pro-automation mindset is their increasing robot density, as measured by the number of multipurpose industrial robots per 10,000 manufacturing employees. In 2012, Korea’s, Japan’s, and Germany’s densities were at least twice as high as in the United States. The demographic pressures also partially explain why Germany launched “Industry 4.0” in 2012. This government initiative is aimed directly at helping companies in the country to capitalize on the rising importance of the Internet of Things. Examples of the potential application areas include the smart electric grid, smart transportation, smart buildings, smart medical technologies, next-generation air traffic management, and advanced manufacturing. Because “necessity is the mother of invention,” countries such as Germany must find productivity gains to offset their demographic decline. In an April research note, Deutsche Bank was quite explicit about the importance of Industry 4.0 in this regard. “For its promoters, Industry 4.0 is not only about improving Germany’s international competitiveness, it is also seen as a tool for tackling the most pressing global challenges (for example, the consumption of renewable and non-renewable resources) as well as specific national challenges (for example, the labour supply that is changing due to demographic shifts).” Read the full article here:

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