BMT default image, depicting a supergraphic on a grey background

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Richard Westgarth, Head of Campaigns at BMT ponders the future for business as it considers how to adapt to The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

16 February 2019

Coastal Infrastructure Water Management

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

We have an enormous breadth and depth of capabilities within BMT that we are bringing together under our Collaborative Autonomous Intelligence Campaign. We want to be seen as the leading organisation delivering innovative ideas that deliver capability to the user, and market growth to industry and academia, by establishing methods and standards to deliver integrated capabilities.

The BMT Collaborative Autonomous Intelligence Campaign is identified in our BMT Strategy as one that requires to be managed across the breadth of BMT and provide significant opportunities in support of the growth targets.

Our vision for BMT in this field is to build an international capability to pursue high value opportunities as they emerge. As the technology matures, BMT’s independence will make us the natural choice to work on programmes, collaborating with the user, industry and academic enterprise to rapidly influence current and future challenges. We are establishing BMT as an influential and capable organisation through thought leadership and developing a clear presence in the market.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will create opportunities that, as of now, are unimagined, it will change the nature of work, organisations and business models. We must ask ourselves whether we are ready to take up the challenges that will transform our businesses.

Whilst the main topic has been on Collaborative Autonomous Intelligence, it must be remembered that this is only one area of technology that forms this 4IR. We could add advanced manufacturing, materials, quantum and the Internet of Things to select just a few. Taken together we should expect to see increasing levels of innovation and disruption, today’s young professionals such as Emma have an exciting future ahead.

As James’s article on regulation demonstrates, here in the UK, we are at the vanguard of progress on addressing the challenges posed in the introduction of these systems, working with international partners to overcome the challenges in the maritime applications.

We have given significant thought on the future role of people in this new world. Dan’s article talks about the difficulties of working at sea, Freyja’s looks at issues of trust in the public acceptability of the autonomous systems and the need to adopt a people centred approach.

As business people engineers and scientists, we see the technology as the big opportunity. The business gains are to increase productivity, lower operating costs, drive up economic value. But we need to recognise that it is also seen by some as an existential threat to societies, communities and jobs. We should ask ourselves, have we given enough thought to the impact upon our societies and people? We will need to look at new careers, training and development methods, new management science and organisational constructs, ensuring we create jobs and roles that meet people’s expectations.

From a personal view, I believe we should expect to see a very rapid acceleration of the 4IR, whilst the first industrial revolution took over 150 years, we should expect the 4IR to last for a few decades characterised by the rapid exploitation of emergent technologies and business models.

Perhaps now is the time to start considering what a Fifth Industrial Revolution may be, perhaps created by developments in biological rather than physics based science?


About author:

Richard Westgarth is Head of Campaigns at BMT, with a particular focus on Collaborative Autonomous Systems. A co-author of the Global Marine Technology Trends 2030, Richard is currently looking at the impact the fourth industrial revolution will have on the maritime sector. He is a Chartered Electronics Engineer, a Member of the IET, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufacture and Commerce.


This text was originally published in  Focus Issue 1,2019


Share this

Related content