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Stop Waiting. Get Started with Industry 4.0 and 5.0

I ran across an article from Rubber & Plastics News that got me to thinking more about Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0. Mainly that manufacturers and facilities across the board and across diverse industries seek the same things and want similar results. All manufacturers want more comprehensive data-driven insights about their entire operations processes. And they want these insights to be driven simply and clearly without requiring heavy investment and training. In short, they want what they want and do not want to have to wait long for it, pay too much for it or learn how to get it or use it. 

The article: “Panel: Customization, costs driving Industry 4.0”

The article summarized comments and reactions of the “Manufacturing 4.0 and the Automated Factory” panel held at the recent Plastics and Rubber in Automotive conference. James Ricci, chief technology officer of Harbour Results Inc., moderated the discussion.

Ricci shared his thoughts that “Industry 3.0 was really when we started to pull in some kinds of automation, whether it was robots, it was the advent of computer and controllers. It all started to get introduced into manufacturing. Then, in the ’80s, we were able to shrink the world through globalization and extend our enterprise with these same types of tools like computers, and we really call that Industry 3.5. … Maybe we’ll have an Industry 5.0. Maybe what Industry 4.5 is, is this idea of taking artificial intelligence and deep learning and having man and machine kind of work together to really eliminate waste and improve efficiency.”

Comments from Panelists

Other panelists offered their own distinctions for Industry 4.0 and factors impacting this 4.0 as well as the pending next industrial evolution.

  • Shaun Karn, president of Hi-Tech Mold and Engineering Inc. and Baxter Enterprises L.L.C., stated that when he looks in terms of applying Industry 4.0, he seeks “more data collection and using data to help predict things or make better decisions” and that “the biggest business drivers are looking at cost and looking at efficiencies.”
  • Matt Myrand, Director of Faurecia North America Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chain, stated that his company’s “digital transformation is driven by the customer.” Myrand also shared a concern about capturing data from a variety of older and younger machines, “ We have machines that are 30 years old; we have machines that are three months old. The challenges are what type of sensors, what type of data, how do we connect those types of machines to actually pull the data and put it in the pile of data.”
  • Michael McGrath, director of automotive and manufacturing at SAS Institute Inc., gave the best comments as he stated succinctly, “Just start somewhere.” He spoke about how all companies know they have “certain issues that could potentially improve yield, ultimately reducing scrap.” He encouraged the audience to start with something, i.e. their pet projects.  
  • Karn supported this and even gave some insight on return on investment for the technology , “We’ve found, usually in less than a year, that we see a payback on that—in some cases four to five months—just for the mere fact of increase in the productivity in what you’re able to accomplish and then couple that with any predictive maintenance software that’s included on there that will prevent downtime.”
Personal Reaction: Fear of Change in Technology

My personal reaction is this resounds with common-sense. There is fear or trepidation with things that are new or different, especially true with technology. Back in November 2015, Felix Salmon on Splinter wrote an interesting article, “Why we fear technology.”  Salmon’s article highlights Genevieve Bell addressing why fear always accompanies new technology. Genevieve Bell is an Australian anthropologist who is best known for her work at the intersection of cultural practice and technology development. Bell is the Director of the Autonomy, Agency and Assurance Institute, co-founded by the Australian National University and CSIRO ’s Data61. Bell stated, “I think fear comes along when magic disappears. The world up until the scientific revolution was full of magic. Now it is suddenly knowable, but the world is no less fearful. The magic goes away, and the fear attaches itself to the technology.”

I agree with Bell and Salmon that “fear is a deeply human emotion: it will never go away. So when science comes along and makes us unafraid of the things we used to be afraid of, that fear effectively gets displaced elsewhere. And more often than not, technology becomes the new canvas onto which our fears get painted.”

People may be assuming that implementing “data-driven” technologies must be complex, difficult, challenging, arduous. I see those as the repercussions of fearing something new and different. Thus, people hesitate.  Some of the hesitation is due to what is feared by the technology. Bell added, “Fear is a way to rehearse the underlying anxiety. Fear of technology is often associated with fear of “the loss of bodied knowledge”. It’s about rendering humans irrelevant. Anxiety about what makes us special.”

 Industry 5.0: Data + Humans = Actionable Information

Which is where I see the next phase of the Industrial Revolution. It will incorporate the human. Many within the industry summarize Industry 5.0 as “people working alongside robots and smart machines.” I subscribe more to the concept that Industry 5.0 will bring “an increased human touch” back to manufacturing. I see Industry 5.0 developing along the alignment of data with humans in order to streamline and advance decision-making. Industry 4.0 projects appear to center on organizations wanting to capture data from production processes, from machines. The next step or phase is toward Artificial Intelligence for predictive, forecasting qualities. Which then moves toward the real goal… simplifying decision-making. 

For our company, DECIDE4ACTION, we are not just on the right path, but ahead of the curve. Our approach is centered on capturing data and providing actionable information so businesses can simplify decision-making. Our platform is built on integration, both integration within and across our solutions, and integration with your own software, programs and systems. DECIDE4ACTION allows organizations to keep using their own ERP, MES, WES and other systems whether best-of-breed, legacy or COTS software systems.

Customization + Integration

Most importantly, the DECIDE4ACTION platform is customizable to address specific needs and challenges, as well as individualized for a pilot project or company-wide deployment. For example, production monitoring, what we call Production4Action, can be implemented as easily as connecting a box to a senor or PLC, or as complexly as SCADA monitoring across multiple plants. Our CONNECT solution is the easiest way to interface with equipment and immediately start capturing results. Any non-digital equipment quickly becomes part of your supervised pool of equipment. This creates a starting point towards “entry-level” SCADA.

The strength of DECIDE4ACTION resides in its simplicity for the end-user as well as in its integration capabilities. From the articles and the panelists’ comments, businesses and manufacturers need those two factors today. I see that as only continuing. Line operators and managers will see their roles and daily responsibilities expand. They will see more machines and more automated production lines. Employees will be required to process more information more quickly and more efficiently in order to make smart business decisions. To do this, Industry 4.0 projects are only step one.

So as McGrath stated, “Get started now.” But go ahead with both phases of the revolution, Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0.  There is no need to wait. Simplify and even automate the decision-making processes for your employees and your operations.