Industry 4.0

How the new hype Industry 4.0 affects the market, manufacturing and the range of suppliers.

Industry 4.0

I often notice a lot of confusion about this new trend. What exactly it is, what it’s not and what it’s supposed to do. Let me first give a small introduction about the hype Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 is the short term for fourth industrial revolution.

The first revolution is meant to be the introduction of water and steam power in industries.
The second is where the work of manufacturing split into parts and then assembled to a whole.
The third revolution was, when the implementation of computer based machines started. This means micro controllers etc.
Now the fourth revolution is meant to be the introduction of cyber physical systems. This includes Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), autonomous machines and vehicles etc.

 

Industry 4.0

You already noticed it: There is no hard boarder between the third and fourth one.
Industry 4.0 is just another buzzword for a hype that already existed several times under different names. Names like Digital Manufacturing, Smart Manufacturing, Factory 2.0, Smart Factory etc.

I need to mention, that Smart Factory is the latest buzzword, which has been integrated into Industry 4.0.

In short you can say, Industry 4.0 means the optimization of manufacturing through automated and digitalized processes and process support.

Taking effect

It might look like there is no need to care about that hype then. But I think this is false.

Germany – or let’s name it: Angela Merkel – is pushing the hype to a new level. At least this counts for Germany and the countries around it. In Switzerland I can see the hype taking effect.

What exactly are the effects, you might ask.
The effects are that manufacturers come under pressure.
Everybody thinks something needs to be done to stay competitive. This is just because they think that everybody else already introduced or is introducing such a new system. And because of that, it becomes true and everybody needs to introduce such a system.
It is the snake eating itself.

Reality

I often hear customers say that they want an Industry 4.0 solution. Normally they don’t exactly know what they expect it to be.
When I see their actual production, I often recognize that not even the third revolution took place.

There is a lot of waste through unautomated or manual processes, no support through digital systems etc. It already would have been wise, to introduce new systems since a long time. Now they are pushed to do so.

The good thing is that they now are open to extend or replace their old systems. Before the hype, it was often very hard to get acceptance or a budget.

The bad thing is that there are a lot of self-proclaimed consultants and experts. The market potential seems to be enormous – or this is at least, what the forecasts say – so everybody wants to catch the train.

Luckily it is easy to identify the good ones very often. They don’t just know about technologies and software systems, but neither about the processes and manufacturing in general. Whenever you need an expert or consultant for that domain, you will most likely know about the processes etc. by yourself. Just ask some general questions and you will spot their competence very quick.

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