66 Academics from 6 Countries Address Challenges of IR4.0

AS the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) or Industry 4.0, brings new technology and innovation, so thus challenges.

IR4.0 is characterized, among others, by the emergence of machines that run without manpower, relying on "automation" that "computer, communication and internet technologies" made possible.

"Industry 4.0 is the automation of information and data exchange in manufacturing technologies," an article on IIOT-World.com says.

IR4.0, it said, brings some major challenges that humans may in some future time face.

  • New business models  —  the definition of a new strategy.
  • Rethinking your organization and processes to maximize new outcomes.
  • Understanding your business case.
  • Conducting successful pilots.
  • Helping your organization to understand where action is needed.
  • Change management, something that is too often overlooked.
  • Examination of company culture.
  • The genuine interconnection of all departments.
  • Recruiting and developing new talent.

An important arena where humans can start responding to and addressing these challenges is higher education, or the university.

Apparently in relation with this, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the University of the Philippines Los Baños, Laguna (UPLB), gathered 66 academics representing eight universities from six countries as they tackled Industry 4.0's challenges.

In an email to SDN — Science and Digital News, it was learned that SEARCA and UPLB hosted the faculty forum focused on responding to IR4.0's many challenges.

The faculty forum is a brainchild of the Southeast Asian University Consortium (UC) for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources, which SEARCA initiated. It was conducted on July 23-24, the faculty forum's inaugural run, organized jointly by SEARCA and UPLB.

Faculty delegates came from members of UC, such as UPLB; Institut Pertanian Bogor, Universitas Gadjah Mada, and University of Brawijaya, all in Indonesia; Universiti Putra Malaysia; Kasetsart University in Thailand; Tokyo University of Agriculture in Japan; and National Taiwan University.

Various speakers gave their insights on the topic.

UPLB Chancellor Fernando Sanchez, Jr. noted Industry 4.0's fast evolution, saying higher education institutions (HEIs) have to keep pace with it.

He suggested a way to do keep in step with IR4.0

"To enable younger generations to take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we need to shift emphasis away from growth learning, knowledge consumption, and conformity, and build the huge capacities for innovation, creativity, and collaboration," Sanchez said in a message delivered by UPLB Vice Chancellor Portia Lapitan.

On the other hand, Dr. Richard Abendan, chief of party of the United States Agency for International Development-Science, Technology, Research, and Innovation for Development (USAID-STRIDE) Program, emphasized the value of innovation-industry collaboration in empowering HEIs.

The USAID-STRIDE official emphasized the need for collaboration, saying, "industries define their problem and the university research is there to work with them in co-creating research projects to solve these problems."

Abendan called to mind some of USAID-STRIDE's initiatives towards helping university career centers, professional science masters, and technology transfer offices at selected HEIs in the Philippines to improve their capacities for innovation.

SEARCA said delegates presented 43 papers in parallel sessions focused on food security, climate change, rural transformation, and graduate education in the context of the IR4.0

In two round table sessions, the participants discussed key areas of strategic collaboration among their universities.

"They proposed cross visits, co-supervision of thesis, co-authorship of papers, and research collaboration on topics that transcend boundaries such as on studies involving the Mekong River or the South China Sea," said Dr. Maria Cristeta N. Cuaresma, SEARCA program head for Graduate Education and Institutional Development.

Another proposal, she said, is the extension of the current UC project on the Joint Master of Science in Food Security and Climate Change (MS FSCC) to a Doctor of Science in Food Security and Climate Change program.

The MS FSCC currently has 81 students from Europe and Asia, including 14 Filipinos, whose scholarships are managed by SEARCA.

At least three panelists suggested that the UC use its influence to be an advocacy group for policies that would prioritize the agriculture sector or benefit the smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia, said Cuaresma.

Meanwhile, as for the benefits of Industry 4.0, here's what the article authored by Mustapha Zaouini on FlipTin and re-printed by IIoT-World says:

  • Enhanced productivity through optimization and automation.
  • Real-time data for real-time supply chains in a real-time economy.
  • Greater business continuity through advanced maintenance and monitoring possibilities.
  • Higher quality products as a result of real-time monitoring, IoT-enabled quality improvement and cobots.
  • Better working conditions and superior sustainability.
  • Personalization opportunities that will earn the trust and loyalty (of) the modern consumer.

SEARCA or the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture is one of the oldest among 24 specialist institutions of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization. (Wikipedia)