Industry 4.0 is becoming a hot topic for manufacturing organizations. But what does Industry 4.0 mean? In this post, I am debunking 5 myths about Industry 4.0
Myth #1: Industry 4.0 is an IT topic
FALSE. In most cases, people associate Industry 4.0 to IT topics, because I4.0 deals with digital technologies. Which is in fact true, although the owners of Industry 4.0 are Manufacturing Engineers. Indeed, ME is the position who knows the most what are the critical steps of an industrial process and where risks and opportunities lay. However, Manufacturing skills are not enough, and the complexity of new upcoming scenarios implies the utilization of new multifaceted soft and hard skills.
Myth #2: Industry 4.0 doesn’t fit to SMEs
FALSE. I4.0 paradigm fits perfectly to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. In most cases, key technologies for I4.0 are based on low-cost hardware, connectivity is based on Internet standard, software and app development, which provide low barriers to anyone interested in the implementation of I4.0.
However, there is still a long way to go. In his research “The challenges of Industry 4.0 for small and medium-sized Enterprises” (01), Christian Schroeder summarizes the current status and economic potential of I4.0 in German SME:
Myth #3: Industry 4.0 requires massive investments
FALSE. As stated before, most of the I4.0 are mainly low cost technologies. Some examples? You can buy a professional 3D printer for less than 500€ on Amazon, which can be used for rapid prototyping in product development, tooling design, maintenance, work organization and much more. Another example? VR can be exploited with a gaming laptop, a basic CAD software and simply Google Cardboard (10€), or, in more professional way, with HTC Vive (less than 700€). Depending on the payload capacity, collaborative cobots, alias cobots, have a great variety of applications for some thousand’s Euro.
Myth #4: Industry 4.0 is about Automation
FALSE. Automation is effectively the main technology of the Third Industrial Revolution (or Industry 3.0). We are using automated solutions since the 70s, thanks to the development of microchips and computer science. Industry 4.0 implies a level up: a robot with a certain level of Artificial Intelligence becomes autonomous, which means it can take some decisions autonomously without human intervention. Consequently, this will drastically reduce the labor cost.
Myth #5: Industry 4.0 is about connecting machines
Partially TRUE. Indeed, machine connectivity is part of the “Internet of Things” strand, which is one of the key technologies of Industry 4.0, according to the Boston Consulting Group. Connecting machines have several benefits, for example:
- Avoid typo errors due to machine data input;
- Provide upstream and downstream feedback;
- Provide a robust data collection.
However, it is important to highlight once again that machine connectivity it is only one of the possibilities that Industry 4.0 includes in its portfolio.
In this post, a quick overview of 5 false myths associated with Industry 4.0 have been provided. Indeed, there is a bit of general misunderstanding about what Industry 4.0 means and what the main risks and implications are.
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01- Schroeder C, The challenges of Industry 4.0 for small and medium-sized Enterprises, THE FRIEDRICH-EBERT-STIFTUNG,2016