The Three Industrial Revolutions

1st Industrial Revolution

According to loverists, the First Industrial Revolution took place in England, in the 18th century (1780-1830). England was the first country to go through this revolution.

Around 1830, the Industrial Revolution was completed in England, and from there it migrated to the European continent. It arrived in Belgium and France, countries close to the British archipelago. Around the middle of the 19th century, it crossed the Atlantic and headed for the United States. And, at the end of the century, he returned to the European continent to resume his late thread in Germany and Italy, also arriving in Japan.

The characteristic branch of the First Industrial Revolution is cotton textiles. Next to it, the steel industry appears, given the importance that steel has in installing a technical period supported by the mechanization of work.

The technique and work system of that period is the Manchesterian paradigm, a name given by reference to Manchester, the textile center par excellence representative of that period. The characteristic technology is the spinning machine, the mechanical loom. All of them are steam powered machines originating from the combustion of coal , the main form of energy of this technical period. The characteristic transport system is the railway, in addition to maritime navigation, also powered by the energy of coal steam.

The basis of the Manchesterian system is wage labor, whose core is the worker by trade. A skilled worker is usually paid by the piece.

2nd Industrial Revolution

The Second Industrial Revolution started around 1870. However, the transparency of a new cycle only occurred in the first decades of the twentieth century. It was a phenomenon much more of the United States than of European countries.

It is this second industrial revolution that is behind all technical, scientific and work development that occurs in the years of the First and, mainly, of the Second World War .

The Second Industrial Revolution has its bases in the metallurgical and chemical branches. In this period, steel becomes such a basic material that it is in it that the steel industry gains its great expression. The auto industry assumes great importance in this period. The typical worker of that period is the metallurgist. The system of technique and work of that period is the Fordist , a term that refers to the Ford entrepreneur, creator, in his automobile industry in Detroit, United States, of the system that has become the paradigm of technical regulation and work known throughout the industrial world.

The characteristic technology of this period is steel, metallurgy, electricity, electromechanics, oil, explosion engines and petrochemicals. Electricity and oil are the main forms of energy.

The most characteristic form of automation is the assembly line, created by Ford (1920), with which he introduces standardized production, in series and in mass.

With Fordism , a disqualified worker appears, who develops a mechanical, strenuous function and for which he does not need to think. Thinking is the function of a specialist, the engineer, who plans for the group of workers within the factory system.

Here we have the main characteristic of the technical period of the Second Industrial Revolution: the separation between conception and execution, separating those who think (the engineer) and those who execute (the mass worker). It is, therefore, Taylorism that underlies Fordism. It is the creation of Taylorism (Taylor, 1900) that series of segmentations that break and dissociate work in aspects that were hitherto organically integrated, from the separation between intellectual and manual labor (workers).

Taylor elaborates a system that he calls the scientific organization of work (ILO).

Taylorized work is specialized, fragmented, unqualified, intense, routine, unhealthy and hierarchical.

3rd Industrial Revolution

The Third Industrial Revolution began in the 1970s, based on high technology, state-of-the-art technology (HIGH-TECH). The activities become more creative, require high qualification of the workforce and have flexible hours. It is a technical-scientific revolution, with the flexibility of Toyotism . The characteristics of Toyotism were developed by engineers at Toyota, the Japanese auto industry, whose method was to abolish the function of skilled professional workers to make them multifunctional specialists, dealing with local emergencies anonymously.

The characteristic technology of this technical period, which starts in Japan, is microelectronics, information technology, the CNC machine (Computer Numerical Control), the robot, the integrated system to telematics (computerized telecommunications), biotechnology. Its base mixes, with Physics and Chemistry, Genetic Engineering and Molecular Biology. The computer is the machine of the third industrial revolution. It is a flexible machine, composed of two parts: the hardware (the machine itself) and the software (the program). The circuit and the program are integrated under the command of the chip, which makes the computer, unlike the ordinary machine, a reprogrammable and even self-programmable machine. It is sufficient for that to change the program or to set up an appropriately interchangeable program. The organization of work is undergoing a profound restructuring. The result is a versatile, flexible work system, integrated in a team, less hierarchical. Computer Monitor,

To make this execution work more flexible, a signaling system similar to that of traffic is distributed across the factory space.

Much of the management network is eliminated by reengineering.

All this technical and work flexibility becomes more adaptable to the economic system. Especially the relationship between production and consumption, through Just-In-Time .

The verticalization of Fordist time gives way to horizontalization. With outsourced and subcontracted horizontalization, the problem of the very high investments that the new technology calls for is overcome and the control of the now transnationalized economy remains in the hands of an even smaller handful of companies. Under their guidance, the old imperial division of the planet gives way to globalization .

The new state-of-the-art high-tech industrial regions unite technology-producing centers with information industries, associated with major research centers (universities): they are the technopolises.
The main technopole is Silicon Valley, located in California (USA) south of San Francisco, close to Stanford University. Other important examples are: the so-called Route 128, near Boston and MIT (USA), the Tokyo-Yokohama region (Japan), the Paris-Sud region (France), the M4 corridor, around London United Kingdom) , the Milan region (Italy), the Berlin and Munich regions (Germany), Moscow, Zelenograd and Saint Petersburg (Russia), São Paulo-Campinas-São Carlos (Brazil).

The Three Industrial Revolutions