Industrial engineering curriculum in industry 4.0 in a South African context

19 Jun 2017

With its potential to change significantly the knowledge and skill-set requirements for industrial engineers (IEs), Industry 4.0 creates a need to reassess the place of IEs to avoid a greater shock than that caused by the information technology identity crisis of the 1990s. This article examines the likely impacts of Industry 4.0 on industrial engineering (IE) and proposes enhancements to IE curricula in South Africa. Research methods include a literature review, a study of IE curricula, and a questionnaire survey of IE programmes. Results indicate that several IE functions might become somewhat transformed, less visible, or downright diminished in Industry 4.0. Emphasis has shifted from traditional IE methods to data-driven functions and cyber-physical systems. The developing mismatch needs correcting by emphasising skills such as ?big data? analytics and novel human-machine interfaces in IE curricula. Only one university in South Africa has made progress towards the adoption of an Industry 4.0 infrastructure. The authors propose a set of curriculum enrichment items as the basis for reform.