From the editor: Opportunity at our fingertips

Tuesday October 03, 2017
Written by
Ben Hope, technology driver for advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0 for Festo Canada.
Ben Hope, technology driver for advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0 for Festo Canada. Photo: A. Dalton
Oct. 3, 2017 - There’s no time like the present — an adage that holds truer today than many old proverbs. Last week I attended the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show in Mississauga, and after sitting in several conference sessions, I noticed an underlying thread connecting the various presentations.

Industry 4.0 is here and the time to act is now.

For Kevin Goering, associate partner, McKinsey & Company, it’s all about the “insane” amount of data available in this digital age of manufacturing.

“Connectedness is reaching new levels across the globe and not only [in terms of] people but also [our] assets through the IoT,” he said. “This all comes down to being cheaper, better, faster.”

A recent McKinsey study finds the manufacturing sector generates more data than any other sector, but only 1 per cent of stored manufacturing data is used today. “People don’t really know how to use it, how to store it, or how to drive better decision-making but for everyone in this room, I think it’s a great opportunity. Whether you are the technology provider or the company looking for solutions, everything is sitting here ready to be used,” he said.

Goering suggests the first step toward leveraging Big Data is to determine the value that will be driven by the optimization network or digitalization process. “Identify what areas you need to improve, where there is value for you as a company, and then be selective about your strategy development. Think about where you have a gap.”

Another important factor to project success is getting buy-in from stakeholders, said Bob Martin, industry partner, solutions manager, Cisco Canada. The priorities of senior management must be understood. “What are the ultimate business outcomes that a leader is looking for? Is it reducing costs? Is it being more agile or becoming more competitive?”

Ben Hope, technology driver for advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0, Festo Canada, stressed that Industry 4.0 must be something that begins today, with people being an important component of its success. “People are at the core of everything. We’re the workers and we’re the consumers so we need a place in Industry 4.0.”

“People are spending a lot of money on [Industry 4.0 projects] right now,” said William Healy III, Balluff marketing management director, referring to research from Morgan Stanley & Automation World, GE & Accenture. “We’re seeing capital budgets for IIoT applications grow 18 per cent, but this one is the most shocking to me. Seventy-three per cent of companies are already investing more than 20 per cent of their overall technology budget on Big Data. This means your competitors are investing in Industry 4.0.”

After years of hearing about the potential manufacturing power of Industry 4.0, it’s clear this fourth industrial revolution is upon us. Can you afford to sit on the sidelines?

This column was originally published in the October issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.

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