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Top 5 Industry 4.0 Myths You Need to Stop Believing In

Top 5 Industry 4.0 Myths You Need to Stop Believing In

  • By

    Dr. Arvind Tilak - CEO

  • /
  • Posted

    19 Sep 2018

Top 5 Industry 4.0 Myths You Need to Stop Believing In

With IIoT / Industry 4.0, manufacturing world is entering a phase of disruptive but welcome change. By integrating digital technologies and automation into manufacturing process, IIoT / Industry 4.0 provides businesses with multitude of opportunities to increase competitiveness and drive value in the marketplace. However, many enterprises are struggling to make exact sense of the advatages and with limited information of IIoT / Industry 4.0, organizations often face several difficulties. These are further compounded  because of the various myths associated with it.

Here are the top 5 Industry 4.0 myths that you need to stop believing in:

Myth 1: Industry 4.0 requires massive investment and is only for the biggies

Yes, it might seem as the IIoT / Industry 4.0 path is easier for large, global manufacturers with existing infrastructure and resources, but the reason is not because small companies lack necessary funds; it is because the big ones understand and acknowledge the benefits they can accrue. The myth that Industry 4.0 requires a massive investment in infrastructure that only large manufacturers can afford is not entirely true.

The smart approach is to start with defining what Industry 4.0 means for your organization and your competitive environment. Your organization may be not completely ready for full adoption but get started with what can be done ASAP. With wearables, augmented reality and advanced robotics becoming a part of the future landscape, start with a strategy that best fits your need and then work your way up. Since the solutions are easily customizable and scalable, small companies are actually more flexible and better positioned to take advantage of Industry 4.0.

Myth 2: ROI is difficult to justify

Many organizations consider IIoT / Industry 4.0 as an arduous task because of the changes involved, the significant investments in time and money required and because of several misunderstandings of the overall transformation process. Since Industry 4.0 is viewed as a means to improve operational efficiency and cut costs, ROI becomes difficult to justify, especially since there may not be any direct revenue impact in the beginning.

Yes, calculating tangible benefits from Industry 4.0 might seem difficult. However, instead of performing the hard – or even the impossible – task of calculating the actual ROI, with downtime reduction by 5% or so of  plant’s productive capacity, you can focus on the cost savings achieved from reduced downtime. By calculating machine and asset failure costs – that often cut into top-line revenue – you can calculate the opportunity cost and accordingly calculate a tangible ROI.

And there are many non-tangible returns that will accrue automatically.

Myth 3: Only companies with data scientists and big data engineers can drive Industry 4.0

The dearth of data scientists is widespread, and honestly, manufacturing organizations are not likely to compete with the IT industry when it comes to recruiting data scientists. However, what is to be understood is that just because Industry 4.0 is based on modern technology, it does not mean that you need to be experts in these domains.

Modern Industry 4.0 technology systems are extremely simple to implement and require very few resources – with little or no capital investment. Since all the information you need is self-contained and since the data science work is performed within the solution like PlantConnect, even if your primary job function is outside the field of statistics and analytics, you can still benefit from all the capabilities through the intuitive dashboards that visualize analytics in easy-to-read formats. 

Myth 4: Companies need to get rid of existing infrastructure

One of the biggest myths around Industry 4.0 is that the existing infrastructure is not capable of supporting new technology and that they must be replaced in order to achieve the benefits. Many organizations shun Industry 4.0 because of the notion that their existing infrastructure lacks the capability or functions required for smart manufacturing, and would require massive capital investment.

However, the truth is, Industry 4.0 is built on the concept of interoperability. Although investing in new hardware can help you reap significant benefits, even with small upgrades to existing infrastructure, you can improve process efficiency. In fact, enabling communication and collecting process data from existing equipment is easier and faster – and far more cost-effective than a complete overhaul. Just make sure to assess your hardware needs before purchasing unnecessary technology.

Myth 5: Data is all you need

Another common myth around Industry 4.0 is that data is directly proportional to output, i.e. larger the quantity of data, better the output, which ultimately leads to better decision-making through analytics and reporting. Therefore, many organizations end up implementing expensive, advanced analytics without laying the necessary foundation of infrastructure.

Although data is an integral aspect of Industry 4.0, before you invest heavily in modern analytical models, it is important to understand the science behind it. Having the right business acumen on different processes is crucial for developing the right models and driving meaningful insights from the data created. Make sure your current infrastructure has the capacity to handle massive volumes of data, in order to not risk degrading the quality of data or wasting your investment.

Take one step at a time

With the massive undertaking that Industry 4.0 is, the biggest mistake you can make is wanting to do it all at once. In order to truly achieve benefits, the most important question – regardless of the size of your organization – is not what technology you must adopt, but what benefits you need to achieve in order to stay competitive, and the steps you need to take to get there. Start by conducting an in-depth analysis of your existing infrastructure and review all the objectives to get a clear understanding of the phase-wise implementation. Such an analysis will also help capitalize on the results of each step, ensure greater control by spreading costs over time and help in maximizing the ROI in the long run.

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