7 Things you should know about Industry 4.0 in 2017

Whether or not you are in manufacturing, those things are essential to know if you want to join the Industry 4.0 debate in upcoming 12 months.

First off, you have surely heard about the fourth industrial revolution during the last two years at many different occasions (just like those hundreds of IoT events around the globe). The debate about what Industry 4.0 actually is and what it is able to provide is getting broader and broader.

But all in all the whole topic is orbiting around certain pillars of manufacturing, digitization and organizational strategies. Some changes are already on their (sometimes long and hard) way, some changes are about to pop up in soon future. We summarized the — in our opinion — top seven key-drivers in industrial manufacturing for the next twelve months.

1. The relevance of the actual architecture of device networks increases

System architects had an easy life with the prototypes and pilots of the last years. Although the IIC and RAMI always pleaded for caring about all stakeholders in the complexity of an IoT System, the friendly environment of tradeshows and innovation labs didn’t ask for high security standards, data governance solutions, deployment concepts, SLA, QoS… But if you want to make your Industrial IoT Project a serious, scaling business in 2017 you can no longer ignore this complexities. You have to expect much more in depth discussions about the infrastructure and — prepare for it — the pros and cons of Cloud technology, local networks, and a much more precise definition of required specifications regarding technological and legal frameworks. In 2017 the debate will not move around topics whether Industry 4.0 is a good thing or a bad, but much more HOW Industry 4.0 will be realized in a most effective way that is compliant with everyone who is affected. Check out this well written, informative article from IoT Analytics for more.

2. IoT Platforms will be much more in focus

The tools are getting better! (Yeah) And much more complex (uhh). Therefore, like in every growth market at a certain stage, there will be the momentum of consolidation. At a later stage this will include companies. At a technological development stage this will happen regarding tools, software and standards. This is where the role of platforms is gaining relevance. Platforms, in a way of supplements, can be grouped in three categories: cloud-based, connected, driven by data. Tools of the same category with different purposes (analytics, data retrieval, data management, visualization, security etc.) can be combined to a platform in the end. (More on that here) This allows application-ready ecosystems for industrial users. Which leads us straight to our number three.

3. The required skillset of industry 4.0 workers is expanding

By that, it will not be sufficient anymore to simply hire an IT-guy or a good team of engineers. Companies start looking for particular IoT talents. Workers and experts, who are familiar with the data side of business, but at the same time have the technical and technological skill set to redesign machine shops, implement tools and applications and — most important — understand and make sense of all the industrial data. The profession called “data scientist” will further diversify and bring up industrial data science experts, who know how to deal with shop floor processes and machine protocols. So, HR and universities: prepare for new challenges here! Read more on this in the current Industrial Analytics Report on Page 45.

4. Applications will be much more diversified

Remember our wheel of Industry 4.0 services? (See below) Well, all those different Industry 4.0 services for a smart manufacturing shop floor require particular services, software tools and applications. Growing requirements and expectations in industry will naturally lead to a growing market of specified and diversified applications.

5. Data Security becomes an essential condition for Industry 4.0 products and services

This is not a free to choose option. 2016 has clearly shown how security breaches in IoT devices can endanger the whole internet. Who wants his product to hit the headlines as the source of the next underground hacker attack? The EU has finalized and passed the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) which will take effect at May 25, 2018. This regulation will impact all IoT technologies, their users and suppliers in various ways. Major denouements will be:

  • Reporting: Security breaches have to be reported
  • Consensus: Each IoT user must provide explicit consent that their data may be processed
  • Privacy: Privacy by design and by default need to be given in IoT technologies
  • Objection: Each user must be given the right to object to automated decision making
  • Child Protection: Data coming from IoT Devices used by children may not be processed
  • and others … (See: IoT Analytics; Lexology)

These rules affect both consumer and industrial IoT products. Given the longer lifecycle of every industrial device compared to a personal one, we have a lot of responsibilities to fulfill when designing tomorrow’s connected industry.

6. Collaborative approaches will beat stand-alone solutions

Believe it or not, if you find the “one for all” solution for your Industry 4.0 efforts, you will be better of to move on and take the specific problem-solver which is able to works on the other side with all other tools out there. Compatibility is a win-win. It keeps you flexible and provides you on the go to improve your productions. The single one-stop-shop is creating dependencies and will sell you something that won’t fit to your individual case at a certain point in time and on-going development. We made this experience during many different demo- and pilot-projects. The key character of the internet is specialization and service oriented architecture. Better rely on a trusted partner instead of a false promising, easy-looking and handy software, which comes with a bunch of fancy features being absolutely useless in the end for your facilities and devices. And if you need more: remember the platforms.

7. Data quality beats data quantity

Yeah, Big Data is a fancy term. It was one of the hot topics in 2013 and 2014. But nowadays the understanding shifted. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier were right in 2013 saying, the real revolution is not taking place through (big data) technology. Instead it is the data itself and the analytics who change the way of common processes. And they predicted the end of Big Data in the same moment, as not the sheer quantity matters but the newly gained insights.

Todays production and manufacturing processes do not depend on how much data there is to be computed. Its solely about how helpful the data and reliable the data quality is. Stupid, but simple example: Having 50.000 phone numbers as a sales person means nothing, if you aren’t sure who you would reach when calling. Having 500 numbers of highly interested buyers is a much better quality and leads to much more efficiency and success rates than simply a vast amount of unqualified and unstructured data. Give your Industry 4.0 the same fundamental thoughts and you will be surprised by the results and effects only a small amount of different data points can already enable.

We at Cybus are focusing on the Industrial Internet of Things by connecting offline devices to a secure and independent on-line infrastructure on shop floor level. Cybus develops a highly modularized connectware to enable service provides, device and machine manufacturers and factory operators making of Industry 4.0 services. This includes rolling out services on own machines, devices, components etc. like predictive maintenance, remote monitoring, virtual testing, advanced analytics and many more. Check out our blog www.cybus.io on a regular basis or follow us on Twitter @cybus_io.

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