The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Technology will not be an option but a must to be successful.

June 14, 2021

3 Min Read

Global digital transformation is often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution because it blurs the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. Protein agriculture is ripe for revolution! Are we ready? 

The four phases of the industrial revolution are:

  1. Mechanical production using water and steam-powered equipment

  2. Mass production through the use of electricity to automate processes

  3. Use of electronics and information technology to automate production

  4. An extension of the third by blending technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres

It is the Fourth Industrial Revolution that holds so much opportunity for protein agriculture. To understand the possibilities, we need to define the areas of influence. Here are five areas the Fourth Industrial Revolution will and should impact pig and pork production.

  • Provide margin erosion solutions to the entire value chain – Visibility to margin erosion through the entire production and processing value chain will be a reality.  Production variation screams opportunity. Complete and comprehensive visibility through sensors feeds the machine that generates predicted outcomes. The biological process trains the machines that inform the people.

  • Transformation of the existing processes – The ability to be present in every barn every hour will change the way we work. It will eliminate fake work and provide analytics that will change behavior for people and pigs. The digital delivery of training protocols will increase consumer confidence and de-risk brand damage through compliance issues. 

  • Foster strong partnerships to fuel customer success – The convergence of competitors is a prerequisite for maximum producer value. Synergistic relationships deliver the maximum value to producers. Silos, walls, and defensive posturing impede progress. At the same time, existential threats such as fake meat and animal rights activism take more and more of the market share while the consumer loses confidence. Tech advancement through partnerships should focus on the entire value chain reducing product quality issues, increasing animal welfare compliance, and lowering variation in production systems.

  • Enhancing human performance – The machine is on 24/7 and always learning.  At the risk of buzzword fatigue, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are major players in the future of pig farming. The demand for labor has gone up while the availability of willing applicants has gone down. A key outcome of digital transformation is to assist the human through AI and ML. The machine never sleeps and continually feeds descriptive information to the human for intervention, and Human Assisted production is born.

  • Enhance pig performance – Cough frequency, behavior patterns, visual weighing are all here today. The unrealized value of advanced analytics is still ambiguous to our industry. We know it's there. The initial data from pilots and soft launches has us asking basic questions that we do not know the answers to yet. Analytics include pig treatment frequency, mortality to treatment ratio, real-time average daily gain, daily feed and water disappearance, and the predictive factors.

Welcome to the future. Exciting times are ahead. The nobility of producing food carries the responsibility to steward the resources well. Technology will not be an option but a must to be successful in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The future is being created before our eyes.

Summit SmartFarms is devoted to creating irresistible places to work in agriculture by simplifying the complex by equipping people to optimize performance through technology.  If you would like to learn more about how Summit SmartFarms can help your organization, you can email Jon  or Valerie

Sources: Valerie Duttlinger, Jon Hoek, Summit SmartFarms, who are solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.


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