As Stephen Covey said in his "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", you want to begin with the end in mind. We'll cover the Art of the Possible and how to use the business case to drive your Industry 4.0 plan
The first step is to understand what is possible. There are many different technologies that fall under Industry 4.0. We have a lot of coverage of those technologies elsewhere on the site, but we'll cover a few of them now. "Big Data" is a set of technologies that allow us to capture far more information from the shop floor than ever before. This data then drives many additional capabilities for the business. For example, one of our customers in the firearms industry has to track a serial number on every firearm by law. We connected their warranty database to information we were capturing from the shop floor to correlate the units that ended up in warranty with a variety of shop floor conditions to see what drivers of warranty could be eliminated in the plants.
Having those massive data stores available also drives machine learning and artificial intelligence applications. These applications can be used for things like predictive maintenance, predictive quality and much more.
Although...Should the focus be on the available technologies? Or should the real focus be on driving improvements to the overall business goals?
There are many potential sources of value in an Industry 4.0 implementation. These include, but are not limited to:
At Visual Decisions, we have a very effective methodology for identifying the potential value from an Industry 4.0 initiative. Using this value discovery process to define the initiative also has the benefit of identifying the required enabling technologies and their relative importance.
Depending on the scope of the initiative, this process can take be completed in as little as two days or take as long as two weeks.