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The Secret Sauce of Industry 4.0

John Broadbent, a Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 Evangelist took us through a quick history of Industry 4.0 which was originally known as Industrie 4.0 in Germany, 2011 and which he defines an environment that provides the ability to see what is occurring, understand the situation, prepare to act and optimise.

  • Industry 1.0, 1784: steam power, mechanism, weaving loom
  • Industry 2.0, 1870: electricity, mass production, assembly line
  • Industry 3.0, 1969: automation, computers, electronics
  • Industry 4.0, 2011: cyber/cloud -physical systems, Internet of Things (IoT), networks, visibility, predictability, adaptability

John is amazed that he still gets asked if Industry 4.0 is a fad, or gimmicky or if it’s worthwhile for business. He thinks business needs the political will and leadership/commitment to complete digital transformation. The gap between 4IR frontrunners and the majority growing rapidly. None of the Global Lighthouse Network businesses went backwards during the pandemic, all improved.

He shared the Secret Sauce behind his work with some leading manufacturers with three key recommendations:

  1. Integration
    1. Of data from multiple sources across the supply chain via the hub and spoke system
  2. Many to Many Model 
  3. Transferring flat files is unreliable and John avoids like the plague

Integrations costs are typically 1-2% of overall capital costs and while there is a cost, there is a higher cost of doing nothing. The holistic approach accommodates changed requirements, as it is designed to be adaptable and supported with rapid deployment without compromising the overall design.

John shared some impressive measurement data from a Deloitte study where digital factory investments led to an average increase of 10% in production output, 11% in factory capacity utilisations and 12% in labour productivity

He challenges the industry to think about how they can become a supplier of preference by ensuring you have your house in order.

Part two of the Smart Manufacturing Session was an open Question and Answer session with questions coming from across the audience on the live platform. We are sharing fully, as you never know if you share the same question or missed the full answer.

Q: What is the main thing holding Australian manufacturers back from adopting?

  • Apathy
  • Nothing more than an unwillingness to get educated and understand the opportunities available and invest

Q: How do we overcome apathy?

  • Primarily education and the grey-haired ceiling has been a barrier to keen and energetic young professionals
  • It’s up to the ‘grey haired ceiling’ to say yes: remain competitive, keep market share

Q: Whose responsibility is education?

  • The industry’s responsibility to educate the industry
  • Government etc. won’t do it – join industry groups, look within your backyard for lighthouse businesses
  • Driven by the leadership, driving from the bottom-up inevitably fails – CEO’s, MD’s etc. need to drive this
  • Walker Reynolds: an individual to watch for education from the US

Q: Visibility is the first step on the journey in your Industry 4.0 roadmap. A lot of companies find it hard to see the ‘trees from the forest’ to start the digital transformation. In your experience, how do you assist a company to point them in the right direction as a starting point?

  • John asks clients etc.: you come to work in 2024, what do you see? Expecting them to have a vision… but what he’s often met with is silence, because people haven’t seen best in class and what ‘good’ looks like
  • You have to have an idea of if you could wave the magic wand then what would your business look like?

Q: How can the IT industry bring in Edge to cloud computing software to solve fundamental problems in the factory floor?  What are your thoughts?

  • Don’t believe it is an IT’s responsibility to solve Edge problems, but it is their responsibility to provide reliable infrastructure
  • IT responsibility is to enable innovation

Q: For inter-company data exchange to truly have Industry 4.0, so touch-less interfacing of a supply chain, is there a common protocol needed to ensure seamless integration between ERP systems?

  • There isn’t one and not sure if there ever will be
  • There is the IS 95 Standard
  • Bloated kind of standard because you need to add so much stuff in to make it customised
    • Block chain is emerging

Q: For large companies where there are a lot of resources for SMEs this can be the sticking point. Who would be the key people to have in a team to drive some integration in a manual manufacturing plant?

  • Electrical / Automation people if you have them
    • It can be challenging, and he gets that
  • Edge devices are coming down in price, can buy edge enabling technologies quite easily (rent for approx.$1000 p/year)
  • For SMEs you have to start small
  • For large businesses, don’t collect data for the sake of it – focus efforts on big-ticket items

Q: In SME, manufacturing who owns I4.0, IT or the OT department?

  • Neither it is a combination of both
  • Have an advisory group in the business across both sections and perhaps an outside stakeholder who knows how to do this stuff

Q: What software packages are commonly used as the hub? SAP you’ve mentioned, anything else you’d recommend?

  • Depends
  • ThingWorx

Q: Who are the key people within a Manufacturing organisation to talk to regarding Digital transformation, what are the roles, will the conversation begin with OT people or is it somewhere else?

  • Starts at the leadership as they have to decide as a business that they are going to go on a Dig Transformation Journey and that then filters down
  • Roadmap for next 2-3 years about what they want to tackle and what program
  • If people are change-fit ready then all hell will break loose
  • Systems put in place that aren’t understood won’t work either and all these need to come together to succeed