What is your definition of Industry 4.0?

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When looking closely at Digital Manufacturing, can we say that Industry 4.0 all about IOT?

I recently attended a webinar on ‘Digital Manufacturing’ and was taken aback when I heard a different point. The speaker said “Industry 4.0 is all about IOT”. I pondered over it “Is that correct?” undoubtedly; the answer is a simple “No”. Then what is correct? Should we say IIOT instead of IOT? Or simply add some more technology elements here to extend the scope. It would be futile to dwell too much with a theoretical definition, perhaps we shall focus more on implementation and outcomes.

“There is no perfect definition, there are perfect definitions”

Around the world, manufacturing industry is experiencing a digital revolution; ‘Industry 4.0’ has taken traditional manufacturing by a storm. ‘Cyber Physical Systems’, ‘Internet of everything’, ‘SMART Factory’ and ‘Digital enterprise’ are frequently and commonly used buzzwords now. This has certainly raised expectations and Industry professionals are very optimistic about this technological change. Research shows, about 40 % companies have made good progress on Industry 4.0 implementation and has witnessed fantastic results. Several sectors will see substantial growth over next 5 years and are gearing up to adopt and capitalize on this opportunity.

On the contrary, there is also uncertainty among manufacturers about implementing ‘Industry 4.0’and skepticism about this being just another empty catchphrase. However, I believe, “It is a game changer”, Industry 4.0 intents to build the technical muscle and weaves digital thread across the value chain. It sounds simple but many organizations are yet to start and few are experiencing difficulties to reap the benefits. There are questions around the starting point and the end goal; also a bit confusion on the outcomes. I see many organizations are currently evaluating Proof-of-concepts (PoC) to build business cases. So where should one start? It is an imperative for organizations to define Industry 4.0, the vision and an implementation strategy. That is first and the most important step. Only 16 percent of manufacturers have an overall Industry 4.0 strategy in place, and just 24 percent have assigned clear responsibilities to implement it.

– Is Industry 4.0 all about engineering of value chain and acceleration of exponential technologies? Or is it more about vertical networking and horizontal integration?

– What is the goal of these initiatives? Is it only to exploit technology and replace humans with robots? Or to build innovative business models, enhance customer experience and achieve mass customization?

These questions shall be answered. Firstly, the key is to define what Industry 4.0 means to you, which shall be perfectly aligned to the ultimate goal you want to achieve. Secondly, formulate vision and strategy which clearly chalks out different phases of implementation and milestones. Finally, communicate with people on the ground to ensure execution is right, this requires involvement at all levels to truly embrace this revolution.

To summarize,

“Digital Transformation is highly dependent on clear top-down governance. An uncoordinated array of bottom-up initiatives will block the path towards Industry 4.0” —Capgemini Consulting

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