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Vision for the Future: Gulledge Previews Presidential Theme on Industry 4.0

Vision for the Future

Gulledge Focuses on Reimagining Building Industry in Presidential
Theme on Industry 4.0

From ASHRAE Journal Newsletter: June 30, 2020

Industry 4.0 is here, and ASHRAE President-Elect Charles E. Gulledge III, P.E., HBDP, Fellow ASHRAE, is making the HVAC industry’s digital transformation a priority. 

His presidential theme, The ASHRAE Digital Lighthouse and Industry 4.0, focuses on reimagining the building industry by integrating people, industry segments and technology. This digital transformation includes building-specific technology, the Internet of Things and connected data platforms. The theme’s aim is for ASHRAE members to learn how to bring the right people together who have the right knowledge, skills and creativity and identify new, dynamic design processes. 

ASHRAE Journal staff talked with Gulledge to preview his presidential theme. He is scheduled to give his presidential address Thursday during the ASHRAE Virtual Conference

What is Industry 4.0?

Gulledge: Before we continue our journey, it is important to retrace the road that brought us to today. Let’s reflect on our previous disruptions to industry starting with Industry 1.0.

In the preindustrial economy through the 18th century, work was synonymous with craftmanship. Products and solutions were delivered as complete outcomes. The era was synonymous with mechanization, water power and steam power. Silos and fragmentation were not part of our vocabulary.

As we progressed into Industry 2.0, electrification transformed how work was performed. Industry realized that products could be manufactured faster and cheaper if end-to-end processes were automated into repeatable tasks. This era brought us the assembly line and mass production at scale. Work, as practiced in Industry 2.0, was performed manually in sequential orchestration.

The seeds of silos and fragmentation were planted. Work results were developed on paper from paper reference. Drawings were developed manually on the drafting board using ink on vellum or Mylar. Drawings were manually printed at the “blueprint” machine. Engineering calculations were performed by hand on an engineering pad or preprinted forms. There were no spreadsheets or programs to assist us. Manufacturers printed massive reference documents. The catalog room was a source of pride and a reflection of just how large a firm’s market breadth was. So much paper; so much weight; so much space!

In the late 20th century, Industry 3.0 was born with the commercial deployment of the microprocessor. The floodgates of the Electronic Age were opened. Personal computers allowed tasks once done by hand to be performed by software. Handheld calculators replaced slide rules. Typewriters were replaced by word processors. Spreadsheets replaced manual tabulation. Databases replaced filing. Manual drafting was replaced with 2D CAD programs. Drawings were plotted, not copied. PDF documents replaced the catalog room. The Internet was unveiled commercially, and the first Information Revolution was born. Think about how we communicated and transferred knowledge before email was created.

Here in the 21st century, we face a new transformation. Industry 4.0 is exploding. We are now in the era of cyber-physical systems. Unprecedented leaps in productivity are at hand. Big data is like air—it’s all around us. The Internet of Things (IoT) provides unprecedented connectivity and possibilities. Data analytics drive efficacy and new business models. Artificial intelligence is employed to improve our end-to-end capacity.

What do you want ASHRAE members to know before your speech?

Gulledge: Industry 4.0 and the age of connection are here. We have to prepare ourselves to work in a digitally maturing world. Broaden your gaze. What you have learned, accepted and practiced is changing right before your own eyes. Together, we now embark on a shared journey of connection.

How would you break down Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is redefining work, such as moving the workforce and workplace away from thinking of work as tasks and evolving work to be higher-value activities. Source: Deloitte Insights
Industry 4.0 is redefining work, such as moving the workforce and workplace away from thinking of work as tasks and evolving work to be higher-value activities. Source: Deloitte Insights

Gulledge: There are four buckets to focus on. 

The first bucket is redefining work. This is moving the workforce and workplace away from thinking of work as tasks and evolving work to be higher-value activities. It's all about redefining what work is and what we should be doing.

The second bucket has to do with lean collaboration, specifically, lean integrated project delivery. We have to break down our silos and fragmentation and work together throughout the course of planning, designing, constructing and operating built solutions. 

The third area is the comprehensive digital landscape. Digital maturity is a must in how we approach the built world ecosystem. Within that category of the digital landscape, you have portable knowledge. You have 7D BIM. You have generative design. You have computational fluid dynamics. You have augmented reality. You have the whole big data

narrative and analytics. You have drones and thermography. You have LiDAR scanning. Caption describing image

You have 3D printing. You have digital twins. We have end-to-end connection.

The fourth bucket is moving the journey off-site and taking advantage of digital precision to challenge where work is actually performed. That’s doing it off-site in parallel with what you're doing on site to create better experiences. This can cut down on cost and time and improve quality. And, that's all created by having digital precision.

Why is it important for ASHRAE to be talking about this topic now?

Gulledge: We need to evolve to be more digitally mature and invest in technology and talent to do all these cool things. We have to move away from paper and move to connected platforms. We have to find value, eliminate waste and improve the experiences for others via the services we provide.

Owners are craving better experiences. They are tired of conflicts, cost overruns, delays, poor quality and solutions that do not do what they are supposed to do. Collectively, we have the capacity to do better.

The world is evolving. Work, itself, is being redefined. Lean collaboration will engage all stakeholders. Digital will improve our capacity as humans to be more strategic. Off-site will change our understanding of what “flow” means. And we all have to get on this bandwagon. The ones who don't are going to be left behind.

Tune into the Virtual Conference to learn more about Industry 4.0 and Gulledge’s theme. Gulledge’s presidential speech is scheduled for Thursday from 12 to 12:30 p.m. ET. Read more to find out how you can register for the Virtual Conference. 

For those already registered, you have access to the full conference, including leadership moments and technical sessions.