6.3 Adopting Industry 4.0 (Digital Economy)

Fourth Industrial Revolution (also called Industry 4.0) is the current digital revolution happening all around the world. This is very different to Information Communication Technologies (ICT) of the Third Industrial Revolution (Industry 3.0), which has been happening from 1970s with the invention of Microchip, PLC, Personal Computer, Internet, Mobile phone and recently social media.

Industry 4.0 is also a digital revolution like Industry 3.0 but different in speed, scale and complexity. Industry 4.0 is happening in the domains of physical, digital as well as biological spheres. The transformations are exponential in speed and also are blurring the boundaries of the above three domains. The Industry 4.0 technologies can be summarized as physical Megatrends (Autonomous Vehicles, 3-D Printing, Advance Robotics, New Materials etc.) Digital Megatrends (Internet of Things and Block Chains) and Biological Megatrends (Synthetic Biology, Personalized Healthcare Geno-editing, GM food and Bio-printing).

We will launch a study to assess the new technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, 3D and 4D printing etc. that could be applied in the current industrial environment and their impact on the economy, particularly in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors. This study will help identify appropriate targeted investment that need to be made in turning some of the selected technologies into important drivers of growth. It will also identify the incentives that could be used to support industries involved in applied research, hi-tech starts up etc. to facilitate building necessary public and private partnerships in enabling Industry 4.0 technologies. This study will also identify the adjustments that need to be made in education to bring it to fall in line with the changes that would be brought about by the implementation of Industry 4.0. This will be extremely useful in synchronising the skill levels of workers who would find it difficult to keep up with the technological changes Industry 4.0 will bring about.

We believe that Industry, 4.0 if managed effectively, has the potential for country like Sri Lanka to “leap-frog” development challenges without following the conventional development strategies. Industry 4.0 will bring the benefits of improved productivity, improved manufacturing capabilities, international competitiveness while being a small player, distributed local production, better working conditions and sustainability and many more. At the same time, Industry 4.0 may expose us to new challenges and risks such as need to change the current economic settings, increased data security challenges, possible loss of conventional jobs, skill gaps, lack of institutional set-ups and poor digital infrastructure facilities and potential “social backlash” etc.

We therefore believe that Sri Lanka should adopt Industry 4.0 in a proactive way. We will therefore formulate a national strategy for adopting industry 4.0 in Sri Lanka by studying the best practices of pioneering countries such as the USA, the UK, Japan China, India, Korea and countries in the European Union etc. We will engage multi-stake holders including private sector, academia and research institutions, communities, civil society and other partners in the policy making in developing an eco-system for Industry 4.0. Along with our social market economic thinking, we will encourage Open Development Initiatives and innovate new social-business models while investing in skill development and change management. Innovative collaborative mechanisms among all parties and international partnership building will be key components of our Industry 4.0 national strategy.

The findings of the study will be considered within our overarching framework of providing primacy to the shared values for the whole of society as against profit maximisation for the few.

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