What do the 9 pillars of Industry 4.0 mean to us in the manufacturing field, or to any other field for that matter?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution like its predecessors before
- 1IR – Water and Steam Power Engine (1784);
- 2IR – Mass Production using Electrical Energy (1870);
- 3IR – Use of PLC and IT systems for Automation (1970)] (1),
shall leave no industry untouched or affected by it. In South Africa in particular, the Financial Services, especially the Banking sector are leading the way, and are undoubtedly the champions of digitalisation.
The good news about the implementation of the 9 pillars that form the foundation for Industry 4.0 is:
- Most of them are already in use manufacturing (2), and in other industries.
- By a way of natural progression, we all owe it to the 3rd Industrial Revolution which has bequeathed to us the electronic revolution characterised by the use of PLSs and IT systems for Automation.
I remember when I was a still a rookie process engineer many moons ago, programmable logical controllers (PLCs), statistical process control (SPC), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), flexible manufacturing systems (3) (FMS), computer integrated manufacturing3 (CIM) and computer numerical control (CNC) machines were the holy grails of manufacturing, and some of them still are. They were efficient systems, but were disparate and not integrated. One of the key fundamentals of 4IR is integration of enterprise assets on the bedrock of digital platforms.
Let’s look at what we currently have (manufacturing assets) in our enterprises (from the 3IR) to what we are expected to have in the 4IR world against the 9 pillars (4) as a base as shown in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: The 9 Pillars of 4IR unpacked (Gerbert et al. 2015)
|The 9 Pillars of 4IR||Current Assets (based on 3IR)||The Future Assets in Technological Advancement:
The 4IR standard of the future
|1. Big Data Analytics||Large data sets to optimise quality, save energy, improve equipment service||Collection and comprehensive evaluation of data from many different sources: production equipment and systems, enterprise and customer management system|
|2. Autonomous Robots||More autonomous, flexible and cooperative||Interact with one another; works safely side by side with humans & learn from them; cost less; greater range of capabilities|
|3. Simulation||3D simulation of products, materials and production processes||Leverage real-time to mirror the physical world in a virtual model (machines, products and humans); operators can test and optimise the machine settings for the next product before physical changeover; drive down machine set up times, increase quality|
|4. Horizontal and Vertical System Integration||IT systems not fully integrated across companies and departments; e.g. companies –suppliers-customers; engineering-production-service||Full integration:
Companies; departments; functions and capabilities – based on cross-company and universal data integration
|5. The Industrial Internet of Things||Sensors and machines networked; embedded computing; organised in vertical automation architecture; limited intelligence||More devices with embedded computing using standard technologies; communication and interaction with one another; decentralised analytics and decision making and real-time responses|
|6. Cyber Security||Discrete, closed or unconnected management and production systems. Low connectivity and unprotected systems||High and increased connectivity; increased cybersecurity threats (internal and external sabotage) ;
protection of critical industrial and manufacturing systems
|7. Cloud||Use of cloud-based software and analytics applications||Improvement performance of cloud based technologies (reaction times in milliseconds; increased cloud-based machine data and functionalities deployment|
|8. Additive Manufacturing||Current prototype and individual product components are already done using 3-D printing||Proliferation of production of small batches of customised product (complex, lightweight designs (5);
High performance; decentralised additive manufacturing systems will become standard
|9. Augmented Reality||Low-level applications in use||Much broader use of augmented reality; real-time information to improve decision making and work procedures
Vaidya et al example on augmented reality (6)
I guess the question of re-positioning ourselves as manufacturers to take advantage of the new technologies offered by the 4IR should be the next logical step. European companies assisted by universities and research institutes have already begun on this journey as far back as 2011. But the results of their research have begun to emerge in the last 3 years or so, led by Germany. The terms ‘maturity, readiness and maturity models’ (7) are pan-European constructs commonly used to describe the journey towards full 4IR compliance where, for example, a maturity of 1 means, means the company is at the as-is state, largely defined by the 3IR sophistication. Schumacher et al define the term ‘maturity’ as referring to a ‘a state of being complete, perfect, or ready’ and implies some progress in the development of a system’ (8). Using the 9 pillars explained above, companies can conduct a self-assessment to determine what their maturity levels are. This would save them a lot of money and effort before calling 4IR pundits and specialists to help with transformation into 4IR. A full rendition of maturity and readiness models could be reserved for another day.
A glimpse of the re-positioning approach, or what I would like to term as ‘the road map’, is provided by PwC’s 2016 Global Industry Survey (9), in what they call the “blueprint for digital success”. PwC has concretize the following 6 steps towards realizing the digitalization of enterprises on its march towards Industry 4.0:
- Map out your Industry 4.0 strategy
- Create initial pilot projects
- Define the capabilities you need
- Become a virtuoso in data analytics
- Transform into a digital enterprise
- Actively plan an ecosystem approach
Perhaps I must qualify the PwC blueprint by quoting its introduction:
“To move forward with Industry 4.0, digital capabilities are all-important. These take time and concentration; step-by-step approach is important. But move with deliberate speed, so that you don’t lose the first-mover advantage to competitors.”
I have just put a spotlight on the road ahead for manufacturers to move towards the 4IR compliance in order to be highly competitive in the e-driven market and e-commerce. If readers are able to understand that we are not facing the mighty Red Sea in front of us to cross, but the humbly River Jordan, then we are okay. But Alas! The River Jordan is also known for its famous tranquility that beguiles its dangerous under-currents. Then my friends and colleagues, I will have succeeded in my self-imposed duty of sounding this clarion call of ‘4IR readiness and maturity’ to cross the proverbial Rubicon, a ‘la Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade (10).
Author: By Dr Ntokozo Mthembu, Pr. Eng., MSc, PhD, MASME, Independent Consultant and 4IR Researcher
(1) Vaidya S, Ambad P and Bhosle S, Industry 4.0 – A Glimpse. 2nd International Conference on Materials Manufacturing and Design Engineering. Procedia Manufacturing 20 (2018) 233-238.
(2) Gerbert P, Lorenz M, Russmann M, Waldner M et al, Industry 4.0: The Future of Productivity and Growth in Manufacturing Industries. Boston Group 2019 (April 09, 2015) 1-16
(3) Basl J and Doucek P. A Metamodel for Evaluating Enterprise Readiness in the Context of Industry 4.0 MDPI Information 2019, 10, 89; doi:10.3390/info10030089. 13pp
(4) Gerbert P et al. The Future of Productivity and Growth in Manufacturing Industries.
(5) Aerosud/Paramount in Centurion RSA “thanks to its potential for design complexity and the fact that it can make more lightweight parts, which is obviously important when you’re high above the ground” from https://3dprint.com/203210/paramount-aircraft-3d-print-parts/ (Date of Issue: February 09, 2018)
(6) (a) A helicopter stuck in remote place in Africa need to deliver food. The next mechanic is some 17 flight hours away and need helicopter back in air within 2 hours. With the help of augmented reality glass on the pilot’s head connected to central computer that would know every details about the chopper. The repair action is performed with the help of augmented reality.
(b) Another example is that of telemedicine in South Africa (South African Telemedical Resources (TMR)) which links academic hospitals (Groote Schuur / Tygerburg ) with clinics and understaffed hospitals in remote provinces to provide radiology and pathology expertise
(7) Schumacher A, Nemeth T and Sihn W. Roadmapping towards industrial digitalization based on an Industry 4.0 maturity model for manufacturing enterprises. 12th CIRP Conference on Intelligent Computation in Manufacturing Engineering, 18-20 July 2018, Gulf of Naples, Italy. Procedia CIRP 79 (2019) 409-414.
(8) Schumacher A, Erol S and Sihn W. A maturity model for assessing Industry 4.0 readiness and maturity of manufacturing enterprises. Procedia CIRP 52 (2016) 161-166.
(9) Geissbauer R, Vedso J and Schrauf S. PwC, 2015 Global Digital IQ Survey, September 2015. www.pwc.com/industry40
(10) My Form 1 English teacher’s (Mr Nqgonqgoza Ntuli) favourite poem – recently invoked by Advocate of the High Court of South Africa, UP’s Prof Christo Botha’s Preface to Statutory Interpretation. An Introduction to Students. Fifth Edition – one of my wife’s (Debbie) voluminous collections.
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