The Cutting Edge of Industry 4.0 at WPK 2016
For anyone interested in Industry 4.0 who wasn’t at the Wiener Produktionstechnik Kongress 2016 in Vienna last week, you missed a tremendous amount of quality ideas from companies and universities who are investing millions in ensuring manufacturing will remain at the cutting edge of technology. Magna, Trumpf, Hoerbiger and many others all gave excellent examples of where they are headed in the future, and our own Hubert Tardieu gave a keynote speech entitled Industrial Data Platform for Industrie 4.0. While there is a lot of agreement that I4.0 combines the best of manufacturing and IT, there still wasn’t much agreement on what I4.0 really is. The universities still prefer the phrase Cyberphysical Systems, and some companies have even banned the use of I4.0 (too hyped!). Complex products need complex ecosystems to build them, so no matter what you call it, a lot of these future technologies are about how production ecosystems fit together.
At the WPK, it wasn’t only looking at the future. Prof. Bleicher and the Technical University of Vienna, who are celebrating the 200 year anniversary of the world’s first University Chair dedicated to manufacturing, also had some great overviews of how far production technology has come since the 18th/19th Century and Industry 1.0.
What struck me was that both IT and Manufacturing point to the Jacquard Loom of 1801 as a key turning point in both their industries – automation on the one hand, information storage on the other. But in spite of being closely intertwined for more than 200 years, there are large gaps between best practice manufacturing technology and information technology. A lot of benefit would result from more effective cooperation between the two. Examples? Because of large-scale industrialized data centers, IT can still learn a lot about operational efficiency and scalability. And because of IT’s experience with data-as-a-valuable-good, manufacturing would benefit from closer relationships with IT.
For the intersection between complex products, complex ecosystems, and complex data, there are three key take-aways from the conference worth summarizing:
- Orchestrated IT Platforms: cross-company efficiency spanning the ecosystem has always been important, but Orchestrated IT platforms which enable cross-company optimization using the flood of data are becoming possible.
- Multi-homing: because the same machine tools and production equipment are going to be used in different ecosystems, there will be a pull for the copies of the same data into each of those different ecosystems (data has multiple “homes” where it can be used). Thought needs to be given on a case by case level to identify which data can be mutli-homed without revealing intellectual property between potentially competing organizations.
- Multi-sided Markets: when two user groups provide each other with network benefits, you have a multi-sided market. A lot of research has been done in the services area for this. But digital blended business models are models that take physical products and combine them with data-based services for those products, or combine them with pure data products. Digital blended business models that will result from Industry 4.0 still needs a lot of thoughtful analysis for how Multi-sided Markets theory needs to be expanded – especially because it is this extra revenue from the data that could make the compelling business case for a company to invest in I4.0.
Maybe that is why during the dinner conversations, everyone was asking questions about data: How much is it really worth? How much of it should I save? Who really owns it? None of these really have an easy answer. Since “Data is the New Oil” is routinely shouted from the rooftops, it is worth mentioning that in the oil industry there are different prices for Brent Blend, West Texas Intermediate, and Dubai Blend – different kinds of oil with different properties. Your data will also have a different value than someone else’s.
The WPK 2016 event was a great place to see what the next steps are in the digital transformation of manufacturing, and thanks to everyone at the conference for the stimulating discussions.
I should mention before ending that we have a lot of thoughts about Digital Blended Business Models and next steps in automation in our upcoming Journey 2020 publication where we have more space to get into a lot more detail about these issues. So if you are interested, check back here at the Atos Ascent Hub soon.