Steel and the four industrial revolutions

Steam, science and digital technology are the three major advancements that have completely transformed our modern society. We mortal humans have a habit of gathering and finetuning our knowledge and resources to create striking innovations throughout our evolution.

Let’s take a look back over the three major industrial revolutions and take a glimpse into revolution 4.0, which is unfolding before our eyes.

The first revolution: Mechanism and industrial Cities

Following slow growth throughout the proto-industrialisation period, the first industrial revolution spearheaded into action from 1765 right into the beginning of the 19th century. There was a massive shift towards steam-powered textile factories and industrial cities. The invention of the steam engine was arguably the most important development of this phase and saw major advancements in the field of mining, manufacturing, agriculture and transportation. The principle factor in the construction of the steam engine is cast iron. These days, the crank shaft, connecting rod, crank pin and wrist were forged from steel. Other major inventions including metal shaping and steel cutting gradually drew up the blueprints for the first factories and cities as we know them today.

The second revolution: Science, mass production and industrial regions

Skip forward to the end of the 19th century and we now have the emergence of new energies: electricity, gas and oil. Inventions started to speed up too: think gasoline engines, airplanes forged with steel and chemical fertilisers. The assembly line powered mass production, with the Ford Model T gasoline engine being the first to be built on a factory assembly line. This also saw people move away from rural areas and into urban areas where they could gain factory work. Furthermore, we replaced iron with steel and the steel industry began to grow exponentially. It enabled businesses to build rail lines, ships, large bridges and skyscrapers at competitive prices. Unfortunately, it set in motion a materialistic culture which is now our biggest setback in the battle against global warming and climate change.

The third revolution: Automation and global production networks

Many of us were alive to experience the transition between the second and third industrial revolutions. In the second half of the second century, we witness the rise of electronics including the transistor and microprocessor and the incredible evolution of telecommunications and computers. For the Australian steel industry, this revolution created the use and reliance on high-level accurate automation of programmable logic controllers in steel production such as steel cutting and profile cutting of steel plates and robotics.

The fourth revolution: Robotisation and global value chains

As we ticked over to the third millennium, the Internet and the digitisation of things took charge and enabled us to build a virtual world from which we can steer the physical world. The applications for the steel and industrial sector are advancing beyond what we would believe is capable. Because of technologies such as Cloud, Big Data Analytics and the Industrial Internet of Things, we are able to make action improved decision making in real-time, prognostic maintenance and interconnected global systems.

The Australian steel industry has progressed significantly since the early days and we’re proud to be a part of it. At ShapeCUT, we have a large range of steel plates stocked from some of the largest steel producers in the world, which can be profile cut to your unique requirements. Get in contact with us today to find out how we can deliver same-day steel cutting services for you.