This scenario is aimed at companies that have performed a number of pilots to learn and test various industry 4.0 concepts.
A key consideration to scale from pilots to a wider industry 4.0 adaptation is the alignment across the production process or value chain and across the different product groups produced with their own production processes.
It’s essential to align the individual pilots and “use cases” on a higher level, preferably focusing on one product group and the entire production process or value chain for this product group. As a result, it is possible that some of the pilots have to be redone with the new scope in focus. It’s important to ensure the piloted concepts are working together by applying and piloting all concepts for one product group or production process. This means that for each step of the value chain and one product group the “use cases” and technical solutions are proven.
The production equipment and tools already have a large number of sensors and actuators that can communicate. Focus should be on defining the standards and main technologies that the various solutions along the production process need to comply with to be able to share data and resources. In addition, robotisation and automation are introduced into the landscape.
Performance of connectivity to enable scaling of the solutions needs to be ensured. Cyber security solutions and policies, especially how to handle third-party access and associated risks, need to be developed. Companies open to providing suppliers and partners with access to equipment and data need protection against unauthorized access and attacks, such as ransomware, through these access points.
The product specification exists to a level where tolerances and tightening can be digitalized and understood by the production equipment and assembly tools. The quality assurance and error proofing solutions also share the same data. A possible development is to define a process for changing product data or production process specifications based on insights gained from data analytics.
IT landscape is key. Modern IT architecture emphasizes modularization and decoupling to enable flexibility and agility. That is, business capabilities delivered by processes and supporting systems should have a well-defined scope implemented as a module that communicates and shares data through a service-oriented architecture. One benefit is that existing legacy systems will continue to serve as a backbone and new capabilities can be added by integrating modules as the need for additional capabilities arises.
As a company adapting to Industry 4.0, the tasks of the workforce will change. Leading research indicates that the demand for resources will not disappear as removed tasks will be replaced by more advanced tasks. Hence, companies should continue building a culture and organization that is willing and capable to adapt to a changing environment.
The strategy for a company that aims to scale from pilots to company-wide adaptation should have a long-term vision, e.g., “mass production one”, and an agile and flexible approach to solutions and how to implement opportunities. A key area when scaling is the business architecture and design of the ecosystem of IT systems, equipment and infrastructure. There is currently a convergence of systems and solutions from the equipment manufacturer, ERP software, and manufacturing systems. These previously separate systems with non-competing functionalities are now all adapting to Industry 4.0 and developing overlapping functionality – and companies should make some strategic choices.
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