Break down your Industry 4.0 monster into manageable chunks

10 March 2020


Our latest Innovation Thursday has shown that the paperless office, artificial intelligence, systems integration and data security are very relevant topics when it comes to Industry 4.0. How can technology contribute to more efficient processes, smaller error margins, better safety and less internal resistance? We discussed this in detail.

You are not alone

We tend to think of ourselves as unique. Of course all of us chart our own course, but it is often possible to see similarities between various persons or organizations. Many teams are having the same discussions about the same stumbling blocks. This is also the case with Industry 4.0: it can mean something very different to different people, but our February Innovation Thursday revealed that many of our customers from different industries are facing the same challenges. We are curious as to whether you are also grappling with the challenges associated with digitalizing your production environment.

Innovation Thursday
See Artificial Intelligence as an evolution rather than a revolution

Artificial Intelligence can be groundbreaking. This does not mean that everything is taken over by robots or algorithms right away. AI can also be used in the background to help people do their jobs better. The technology can take over routine tasks – such as ticking off a checklist – to free up time for more meaningful, challenging tasks.

Technology can support us in certain decisions, but for the moment crucial safety decisions are best left to people. For example, vibration is an environmental factor that cannot be faultlessly assessed by sensors yet. It requires the intervention of an expert who can look at this factor in the right context. And what happens if the line of communication between machine and intelligence breaks down? The operator also serves as a safety feature in that respect.

We can therefore conclude that an operator is still crucial. The rapidly evolving technology landscape may cause this to change in the (near) future. It is important to keep an eye on what needs to be done now, but it is equally important to make sure we gradually evolve towards what will need to be done tomorrow. It is best to do this step-by-step in consultation with all stakeholders. This is the only way to make room for a digital and future-oriented mindset.

Go paperless: save trees and data

Close your eyes and imagine yourself inside the factory hall. Operators are walking around with pieces of paper. They put them in their back pockets and forget to fill them in because something else attracts their attention. Paper forms get lost and end up in the bin. Correctly completed forms are impossible to read. A hair-raising situation, not least because a treasure trove of data is being lost. It makes good reporting very difficult. It is also completely impossible to process this data and combine it with other relevant data to gain new smart insights.

Leaving the paper age behind has all kinds of advantages. A digital character can never be misinterpreted. Notifications ensure that the operator fills in all the necessary information. This input can be analyzed in real time with AI or machine learning (ML). A specific value can automatically trigger another notification to check a certain part of a machine, for example.

With automation and digitalization, great progress can be made in terms of data quality and data processing speed. This will immediately result in cost reduction and more efficiency. Cultivating a digital attitude is also crucial in this step, because the tablets are still being operated by humans. A well-considered change process is required.

Safety first in Industry 4.0

In Industry 4.0, all sorts of data is collected by Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors. Some of this data is probably business-critical information that needs to be properly secured. A secure connection between the IoT sensors and the data platform storing all the data is required. It must also be defined which data can be seen by which individuals. Identity & Access Management (IAM) allows us to ensure that only the right people can access certain data.

Take an all-in, step-by-step approach

Many companies opt for point solutions: they solve issues locally, but miss the bigger picture. This results in a lack of logical coherence and makes it difficult to combine data. This dispersed approach hampers evolution towards Industry 4.0. Taking into account your entire infrastructure from the very beginning will give you an immediate head start. Does this mean that everything has to be shut down for a while? No, a step-by-step approach is preferable here. A new tool or feature can be tested on a single production line. By sharing the process and the added value with the rest of the company, you can steadily build that essential digital mindset. This makes automation and digitalization of your production easier to achieve than you think.

Go For Smart Industry!

We can guide you.

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