Industry 4.0 or the industry of the future stands out as a major topic in industrial sites and factories. Because of its innovative character and in front of a multitude of offers, the industrialists have a hard time to identify, to choose the good technology and difficult to imagine its deployment.
Internet of Things (IoT), connected or predictive maintenance, big data, smart sensors, offers and technologies around the industry of the future abound. The new industrial France, the action launched by the French State, has accelerated things. Manufacturers are testing all the technologies of POC * (Proof Of Concept) and realize that some or even some of them are not applicable in a real situation.
There are several reasons for this: too futuristic technology, not adaptable on a large scale, incompatible with heavy internal information systems, complicated to use for land operators, or too expensive.
In order to facilitate your choices regarding the industry solution of the future, discover in this article, the 6 fundamental criteria to take into account in your reflection.
# 1 The performance provided
The main goal of the future industry is to optimize the performance of a plant or industrial site using Lean Manufacturing methods. Sometimes translated as “lean production”, lean manufacturing refers to an industrial organization of production to produce better, faster and cheaper.
The technology itself should not be a determining factor.
Before choosing a technology, you must analyze in detail what criteria you want to optimize and determine your operational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Some are rather quantifiable as handling time, pace or quality of production. Others, such as developing training within the site, encourage the hiring of young people, give an innovative image to customers or capitalize on knowledge and share it with newcomers.
As an example, consider one of our customers who wanted to optimize the intervention time of their technicians and secure their maintenance operations: with our partners, we accompanied them in this process in order to define their needs and their KPIs (duration of immobilization, machine availability rate, equipment rate of return, accident rate, response time, regulatory compliance rate). It is also our role as an IoT solution publisher to intervene at these crucial steps in the identification process.
Today, our customer earns more than 30 minutes per day and per agent and can thus optimize their productivity in safety.
Ask yourself what impact this time saving can have on your production, your costs or your quality to project you and thus facilitate your decision making process.
# 2 The benefit / cost relationship
Once you have determined your performance indicators, look into the cost of implementing the solution.
Some industry 4.0 solutions may seem costly at first and others very affordable.
The cost / benefit analysis must be done according to the stakes and the maturity of the project.
If some of the indicators that you have defined upstream seem to you to be important, ask yourself what financial effort would you be able to provide to achieve your KPI goal.
With one of our customers, we estimated that our solution made him earn about 90.000 € per year on his operating costs. In this case, it is easier to consider an investment in proportion to this gain.
However, be careful not to neglect the hidden costs such as the time spent by your teams to the success of the project or the training / communication of this new operating mode.
# 3 The human factor
Today there are very effective technologies on the market that can help you improve your industrial performance quickly with easy handling.
However, for this technology to be adopted, it must be used. Its rate of adoption and use must be important variables to integrate from the beginning of the project.
All the operational and strategic actors of the project must use it on a daily basis to be able to carry out a speaking analysis, train the teams, communicate around the implementation of the project.
A solution that is not intuitive for users or that has a long learning time is unlikely to be adopted.
Do not hesitate to have it tested by your staff. What do they think? How do they project? These positive and negative user feedbacks will enable the steering committee of the project to find solutions to address these issues.
The sooner the returns arrive in the project, the higher the adoption rate will be because the field teams will feel involved.
# 4 Integration with your information systems
The advent of the cloud has revolutionized data storage. Openness to other systems has become paramount. Today, no software can answer all the problems of one company at a time. In this context, open data and collaboration between business applications are needed but security remains a priority.
Most of the information can be stored in your information systems: the solution must be able to integrate with them but also with other systems. Some prefer to delegate all the management of the service and therefore allow the hosting of their data in a private cloud and secure (even geolocated). Others will prefer to manage the service and data themselves on their local system.
Take the example of intelligent sensors: you have to be able to take full advantage of the data that has been uploaded, mix them with other data collected by another solution (manufacturer data, energy management of the site, etc.) to feed your own tool that will analyze them. If integration is not possible between these different systems, the solution will quickly reach its limits.
We advise you to choose an integrable solution with yours via an API (Application Programmable Interface) system that complies with your security policy.
# 5 The universality of the solution
The solution must be intuitive enough for all generations to appropriate. The user experience is a non-negligible variable to take into account in your study because the handling of the solution and the adoption rate depend on it as we mentioned earlier.
It must be scalable and adaptable over time. When we invest in a technology, we want it to last as long as possible. It is therefore normal to ask questions about what it will become in the next 5 or 10 years. You can also plan to anticipate its adaptability with future technologies.
We must therefore think of its durability and its universality upstream of the project.
Indeed, operational teams must work hand in hand to share knowledge and expertise between the younger generations and more senior generations.
The chosen technological solution must be part of a transgenerational environment and respond to strong technological challenges while guaranteeing the investment you will make and ensuring the sustainability of your project.
# 6 The ability to be deployed
Large companies that test POC * (Proof of concept) on a small scale or on a site have the advantage of deploying them on all their sites. Innovation or industry teams of the future that we see emerging more and more must question upstream on the ability to deploy the solution.
To what extent can the solution be deployed to other sites? How long would it take? What are the blocking points? Imagine that you have thousands of sites, is it possible that all the others benefit quickly?
These questions need to be addressed in advance so that you can project yourself and consider all the possible scenarios and make a deployment plan for the coming months or years.
The scalability of the solution becomes in this case a fundamental subject to consider upstream of your project.
We hope that this article will be useful in your reflection to retain an Industry 4.0 technology solution and make your project, POC or Pilot a reality.
We will see in a future article how to go from the POC to the Deployment: the different methods and some feedback that will allow you to approach the subject Industry of the future serenely.