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Part 1: Why Industry 4.0 will not work for you

Industry 4.0 is being "pushed" from many sides, and horror scenarios of what will happen if the reluctance of the German medium-sized industry continues are being spread. However, the concept has not been clearly defined. Also, the chief spokesmen in this discussion are largely guided by their own interests.

On the right track or overhasty fashion trend?

Have the constantly repeated forecasts of a German industry uncoupled from progress already set your alarm bells ringing? Have you already started a showcase Industry 4.0 project in your production department? No – and you are still sure that you and your company are on the right track? Congratulations. It is rarely a good idea to rush into fashion trends. However,  with a hype such as Industry 4.0 it is important to understand the underlying assumptions and trends. This understanding will then place you in a position to decide for yourself whether, and if so how, you need to adapt your company planning.

With the expression "Industry 4.0", it is never quite clear which fields of business activity are actually included. Yet one of the great dangers inherent in the current discussion is defining the term too narrowly and thus giving the impression that the ability to compete can be secured by networking a number of production machines or a fully digital control unit in a section of production. This is the kind of thing people offer at congresses to make a name for themselves – but does it interest your customers? In this article, the clear term "digitisation", which is more comprehensive than Industry 4.0, is used.

Digitalisation is an internal management task

It is now clear that the consumer and commercial spheres are undergoing progressive digitisation – and that this has been happening for a very long time now, and more recently with greater rapidity. At company level, digitisation affects three areas:

  • New customer requirements arise.
  • New products and services become possible.
  • There are new ways of organising service performance in the company.

Strictly speaking, therefore, Industry 4.0 covers only a subsection of the third point. In order to work out a successful company strategy, however, all three areas must be taken into account.

The overall orientation of a company to accelerated digitisation is a permanent management task which cannot be delegated to external consultants. This means that a broad knowledge of the basic aspects of digitisation must be available within the company. In addition, it is also important that the inherent contradictions should be understood, because the areas in which there is no absolute right or wrong are of especially great importance for successful implementation in one's own company.

Read which are the three greatest areas of conflict that need to be taken into account in the next EDAG newsletter.

Further information

Industry 4.0