Industry Write For Us – In this post, we present some questions about Industry 4.0 that you have asked yourself to understand more about the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on your life and your business.
And so that you can see that we are serious, we decided to eliminate the typical question, “What is Industry 4.0?” And we won’t because the web is full of boring and technical definitions about it. Instead, we collect questions that people ask us all the time at seminars, webinars, and other forums where we are present. So here you go:
1. What are the differences between Industry 4.0 and lean manufacturing?
To put it most simply, lean manufacturing refers to all those tools that help us eliminate everything that does not add value to a company, everything that means waste, waste of all kinds of resources, materials, time, etc. This reduces the time a worker takes from a production line to a warehouse for a specific tool. That is, it is a continuous process of identifying practices that lead us to maximize the use of resources. This is generally because talking about lean manufacturing requires several spaces. Industry 4.0 somehow also pursues this in the background, increasing efficiency in processes and productivity and reducing costs. Still, it does so by exploiting digital data from equipment and techniques. In this general conception, Industry 4.0 technologies can coexist perfectly in a plant with lean manufacturing programs in place because they are an ideal tool to maximise the use of resources. For example, making the most of the availability of the machines and constantly measuring their performance.
2. What are the differences between the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0?
Within Industry 4.0, there are 12 emerging technologies, including additive manufacturing, advanced robotics, virtual and augmented reality tools, Big Data, artificial intelligence and the IoT, among others. First of all, the IoT is part of this spectrum of Industry 4.0 technologies; it is the foundation for most of the others.
The Internet of Things (IoT) connects people, processes, equipment, and devices through an IT network. Without IoT and without data, you couldn’t get any AI solution up and running because, in simple terms, data is the fuel of AI, and the IoT enables data to be generated. For example, without IoT, you would not be able to visualize the data of your equipment and techniques, and you would not be able to exploit that data with Big Data tools because there would simply be no data to store and manage.
Regarding this question, some want to know the difference between the Industrial IoT. In simple terms, the Industrial IoT is the extension of IoT to industrial environments.
But it must be said that these industrial environments require specialized products, and solutions are designed to withstand harsh and extreme environments. In many cases, they must be customized because they are legacy equipment that must be updated.
3. Can I dabble in emerging technologies if my equipment is legacy or obsolete?
This is the crucial question. The answer is a resounding yes. Operating with legacy or old equipment is expected in any industrial plant, except in new factories, recent investments, or highly automated industries, such as automotive, electronics, and aerospace. Outside of that, having old equipment is the most normal thing in the world. Why? Because the amortization periods of industrial equipment and machines last for years or even decades. So no technology provider will say to an industrialist, “Take this IoT technology to modernize your plant; pay me 10 million dollars”. It would be nonsense. As a result, most I4.0 solution providers know they have to deal with legacy equipment and systems. They must offer accessible solutions at an attractive price, and that from here, they have to generate value for their clients. At least, that’s what we promise in our pitch at Gesta Labs.
4. What is the difference between Industry 3.0 and Industry 4.0?
Industry 3.0 refers to the beginning of automation through PLCs and electronic systems in plants. We are talking about the late 60s and early 70s. The main difference is the connectivity of the equipment from the IoT.
Many people today continue to use the terms automation and digitization interchangeably. But they are different and complementary things. Digitization is the next automation phase and gives rise to data-driven manufacturing. Thanks to it, for example, we can monitor our equipment in real-time, make a history of all that data, store it, detect patterns, create algorithms and teach a system to predict when a machine is going to fail and Build a predictive maintenance solution, so it doesn’t happen. This was unthinkable with automation or industry 3.0, but today these are happening.
5. How do I start implementing Industry 4.0? (SME, this is for you)
It is a question that people ask themselves very frequently, and whose answer can be comprehensive because you have to know some particular aspects of each company, such as the degree of digital maturity, that is, to see if it already generates data or not; And if it does, knows what type of data it causes, and by data, we must understand that it can be from excel sheets, videos, photos, or those that are generated through ERPs, PLCs, MES systems, etc., how they are stored, which is the historical or, as it happens in many cases.
What we do at Gesta Labs starts by knowing and defining the problem to be solved. From the outset, we begin by clarifying that venturing into Industry 4.0 should not be done for fashion because that will not have the results they are looking for. In other words, we help them rule out ideas like: “I want to implement virtual reality because the lenses and images look very cool.” Yes, they will look great, but you will be disappointed when you look for practical business utility. It will be like buying a potent computer and using it solely to write in word. And with an experience like this, you may never want to try Industry 4.0 again. You’ll end up saying things like, “that’s pure glamour; That is for people who like to show off in forums that they are already doing Industry 4.0”. Therefore, in sum,
6. Is Industry 4.0 just glamour and a fad?
Not at all. We are not exaggerating when we talk about it being the equivalent of a new industrial revolution, the Fourth, to be precise. By definition, each of these stages has implied a change in the industrial and economic order, with the introduction of new technologies that transform production systems and modify the relations between men and machines. Considering this, we are undoubtedly facing a paradigm shift in creating products and services.
7. What is the degree of penetration of Industry 4.0 technologies in Mexico?
Difficult to say and encompass in a single answer. Its variation depends on various factors. For example, companies linked to high-tech industries such as automotive, aerospace, electronics, and food have already made some inroads. The company’s size also impacts since the first Industry 4.0 technologies were expensive, especially for SMEs. Today, the market offer has brought a more comprehensive range of solutions with options of all kinds, which is why access to them has begun to be democratized. On the other hand, we must consider that the Industry 4.0 journey includes several stages, and perhaps no company — not only in Mexico but in the world — has covered all of them. In fact,
8. At the country level, how does Mexico compare to other countries adopting Industry 4.0 technologies?
Suppose it is compared with the countries that have become precursors in their development or pioneers in their adoption, such as Germany, Sweden, Japan, the United States or China. In that case, the reality is that Mexico still looks at them from afar. And this is explained because, historically, our country has focused its manufacturing model on cheap labour and competitive costs and has not prioritized technological innovation as part of its offer. Today it tries to change that, and without a doubt, we believe the efforts are aligned for it.
9. If Mexico has historically based its competitive model on low cost, is the emergence of Industry 4.0 an opportunity or a threat?
It is a complex answer and one that depends on several perspectives. In the long term, it is undoubtedly an opportunity: to transform Mexico’s competitive model towards one of technological innovation based on an ecosystem that includes the entire value chain and offers more significant opportunities for technological ventures, the democratization of technology and the development of new business models. No doubt that will be a golden opportunity. But it is also true that it represents a short-term threat, especially if the country does not make a rapid transition towards developing new competitive advantages that replace the traditional ones, such as the low cost of labour and proximity to the United States. If that does not happen immediately, the country will lose attractiveness as a destination for investment in manufacturing. Joined.
10. What implications do technologies such as artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, and additive manufacturing, among others, have for the future of work?
They represent a transformation, without a doubt, and also a challenge. And it is an issue that goes far beyond eliminating and creating jobs and has to do with a new focus on profiles, skills and competencies. All industrial revolutions have transformed the workforce, so this will not be the exception; We believe that repetitive and low-value tasks will be replaced by more strategic studies for the business. However, that does not mean that there should be warning signs. It is a matter of adaptation and understanding, in which we must all ask ourselves the following question: “How can I use these new technologies to improve my daily work?” To the extent that there is more clarity in the answer, the possibilities of reinvention for the workforce will be greater.
11. Why should companies understand that Industry 4.0 initiatives are a priority?
Because they mean a new paradigm in production systems, a total change in traditional ways of working and the need to create new business models; because there is greater demand from customers, greater customization of products, and more dynamic design, production and consumption cycles. And because someone else is already doing it, that could mean staying out of the market.
12. What are the biggest challenges facing this new era?
The biggest challenge is creating a new culture oriented towards using new technological tools to transform our businesses. This implies obtaining information about the available technology, its scope and limitations. It also means creating new habits at work, always considering the incorporation of these tools. Basically, it implies a change in thinking that requires more analysis and openness towards new alliances and decisions, taking risks, and always thinking of data and information as a strategic part of our business.
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