Our economy is undergoing a digital upheaval that will permeate, and even change, the type of businesses we nowadays proclaim to know in-depth as recognized suppliers of services . The post of today will explore what is intended as Industry 4.0, clarifying a bit this term that usually stands for the fourth industrial revolution.
The promising industry is digital: production shares its fraction of glory with up-to-date information and communication technology. Few businesses have the privilege (or maybe not) to be detached by this metamorphosis, quasi unanimously accepted by manufacturing, machine production, process industry, agriculture and the industries that have VIP access of life beings basic requirements: food, pharma and bio-technologies. In the last case, the objects and the goods in our homes share quasi the same massive production chain scenario as the animals we breed, love and eat.
Taking these creatures as a reference, we needed them for a long time to maintain ourselves healthy, active, reactive and unconditioned sovereigns of the ecosystem able to show our range of influence.
Thinking on this scenario imagine that what is going on in industry 4.0 is way more complicated.
The software, the lymph of information, is the indispensable nutrient able to maintain the process actively. It requires not just an effective communication among machines, as it must consider what is happening between devices and their products, between machines and workers, shop-floors installations and opening in beautiful European malls and support back offices in Malaysia, logistics services and even CEO and investors relationships. Every factor is involved in the ecosystem.
Digital transformation offers both opportunities for new start-up as well as even new risks for companies that decided to maintain an umbilical cord with tradition, their current limestone for revenues. What we find a bit impossible to refuse is that nowadays, innovations are regarded as the original and powerful driver of economic bouleversement. Both factors, digital transformation and change, are the basis for new products and services able to streamline – efficiently – existing processes, opening new scenarios.
A primary objective for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is to use this current standard as a basis for revenue and implementation of the Industry 4.0 strategy. Something that requires a long way to be an easy process, as constant bits of openness and creativity, new and risking forms of business model flexibility always make a difference in the production chain of individual products making them, step by step and with the right precautions, immune to the competitive market treats.
Adding a series of tools and facilitation in this dynamic manufacturing process could play a role when time and space constraints require to order services or goods from other machines, as well as companies independent from human intervention: augmented reality, collaborative robots and machine-to-machine transactions are already a big part of the industry 4.0 paradigms.
Even production can be simulated before a real machine exists: complex algorithms and digital infrastructures interact and take place if a matching application-specific functionality can be offered.
The industry 4.0 is smart, fast and able to offer tailored services even before a service exists. Its features are mainly client and new markets oriented: there, the rough stone is already a diamant.
That is what defines its potential and the radical change in the canonical product life chain, from the (machine) design, the target, the production chain, the use, the channels of communication and selling, the installation and maintenance, the recycling process after the machine nominal life.
A prerequisite to addressing the required complex knowledge (as theory, isolated from reality, is a blurry form of sufficiency) is the interaction that every single technical object in the chain have with each other and the implications that integrations could even have as cloud-based platforms. This efficient rethinking, in our “new” digital world, requires consistent networking, scrolling over possible, real and valuable or just potentially suggestive constellations of data.
Probably you already know that in every system, a prerequisite for a successful collaboration and unequivocal achievement is the interoperability of factors.
This is happening both in life, when you find yourself in complicated and enriching relationships, then in a system where all the components interact with each other. To maintain this frequent and efficient communication, they need norms and standards that agree both on a shared understanding of the data to be exchanged, then to a diligent welcoming and execution of the rules of interaction.
Imagine it as a social game, but more complex in the sub-layers: things must go as planned long or shortly before. The operativity of the system is sensitive; even when reliability is maintained over time. Things get complicated when diverse elements composing the system face themselves, looking forward to running and maintain full proficiency for communication protocols.
This is why is so essential that industrial applications co-exist and survive in different various software tools, even if they are at a partial model stage and need to act – autonomously – to find a solution approach that might be working out. Processes of integration in the industry 4.0 environment are not just fancy ribbons, as its infrastructure require a continuous update and inclusion in the connective tissue guaranteeing data to flow within demanding process chains.
The well known, blessed, data-flow is the factor that always plays an influence on our results.
To organize multitude, we humans are usually very creative: we use either laws and norms, either minimum accepted technical requirements that we carefully legitimate to assume the status of global and valid standard systems, the ones that define even the mobile and smart 4.0 industry.
Here, one of the things that might appear tricky is that people mastering this communication protocols have to anchor all the specifications that are essential for technical function and applicability – step by step – studying and dialoguing with all international standards. A first requirement to enter in the Gilda of the criteria that control – not only – this industry is to respect what IEC & ISO demand.
One of the fundamental ideas behind the reference architecture of Industry 4.0 is to bring together all similar but diverse aspects in a model able to sustain this weight of complexity. That serves as an orientation for a systematic approach, required to let the industry 4.0 being sustainable for the sectors that are now investing, with past research and prototyping, to be there, in this bright future.
Digital transformation offers both opportunities and new risks. In this post I started to make an overview of some aspects that being on a fast development rate provide a rough outline of the industry 4.0 standards.
The one that is traveling a dynamic and challenging, leaving no doubt on which characteristics have the bright pole star to be followed, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises that aim to settle in such ecosystem.
If you liked this topic be sure to connect via email to receive updates on my new blog posts.
Have a nice Sunday and don’t avoid surfing on complexity 🙂