to stop buying machines and you need
to “buy Industry 4.0.” First of all, you
cannot buy a “plug and play” version
that would fit your factory - you need
to build it yourself! You also need to
complete your transition through the
Third Industrial Revolution.
Picture it this way: You are not
setting a new goal; your measurement
bar has just gotten raised by a huge
Seven key areas
If you are interested in pursuing this
journey, a good start is a “fitness review”. How close are you in managing
the “batch size of one”? We have identified seven key areas which include all
aspects of the business, that all need
to be addressed simultaneously to get
your company ready for Industry 4.0.
1. Strategy: Does your market accept mass produced product with little
variations or does the market demand
high variety in short delivery?
2. Product: Are products complex
and are variations the exceptions, or is
there practically no difference between
standard and special orders?
3. Technology: Are you producing
into a finished goods warehouse to
ensure short lead times, or do you have
flexible manufacturing to allow order
4. Logistics: Is the material supply
to assembly and shipping inconsistent,
or do the organizations currently ensure consistently high levels of performance?
5. Data integration: Standard product has bill of materials, but do special
orders need to be created manually?
If the product does not arrive in the
buffer on time, do we need to look for
it, or is there sufficient monitoring to
ensure effective controls?
6. Organization: Are machines
repaired only when broken, or is
systematic preventive and predictive
maintenance fully implemented?
7. Human Resources: Do employees
stay on the same workstation for a long
time, or is systematic cross training
This is not a short-term project. As
you answer these questions, a more
realistic picture will emerge. It will
show where the company needs to
improve to achieve the batch size one
capability, which will be prerequisite
in most cases. As you are facing a
major transition, start the discussion
in your company; IT, Manufacturing,
Engineering, and Production need to
learn the basics of Industry 4.0 and
synchronize and align their approach
on this subject. Currently, practically
no company is ready for this change.
Industry 4.0 is still too new. But if you
do not start the discussion now, or if
you don’t do your fitness test and if you
don’t read up on the Internet, you miss
the opportunity and fall behind the
companies who do.
This process makes it clear that this
is not a short-term fix. This is a multi-year journey.
Any good project starts with good
planning. You need to have your company specific Industry 4.0 vision. This
time-phased plan should outline your
milestones, your approach, and your
resources to do it.
If you do not plan for it will not
Over the next few months, we will
continue to write about Industry 4.0
and will go in more details on the
seven key areas of Industry 4.0 and the
Connected Factory. ✚
Sepp Gmeiner, left, is a partner at Lignum Consulting. Georg Frey, right, is the president of
Lignum Consulting. They can be reached at email@example.com.