Why companies often fail to get the most out of Industry 4.0

Mar 04, 2021
  • IT
  • operations
  • internet of things

Is Industry 4.0 all talk and no action? Here at delaware, we’ve noticed that many of our customers find themselves in a similar situation: an abundance of potential use cases, but a shortage of concrete implementations. Why? Our hypothesis: we have reached a ‘manufacturing status quo’ that is hindering us in fully grasping everything that Industry 4.0 has to offer.

Before Industry 4.0, there was Industry 3.0: the advent of automation and robotics. However, 3.0 never fully matured, and 4.0 seems to be heading along the same path. The result: organizations fall short in responding to unforeseen circumstances like Brexit and COVID-19, even though it is perfectly possible from a technological point of view.

Heading in the same direction – but driving different cars

Within an industrial organization, there are four different domains all doing their best to improve manufacturing performance.

“On the business side, you have the people involved in strategy and those involved in operations all striving to boost performance,” explains Alexander Naessens at delaware. “On the strategic side, decisions have to be made on what and how many products to produce where and how. On the operational side, personnel are working to improve processes, reduce scrap, produce more, increase quality, etc. Both strategy & operations need data and tools to support them in taking these decisions – and that’s where IT and OT come in.”

industry 4 0 roadmap fig 1

  • IT (information technology): tools and functionalities like the ERP, MES and reporting.
  • OT (operational technology): robots, machinery controls, screens and devices close to equipment.

“Typically, the IT-solutions are managed by the IT-department, while the OT-solutions, are managed by the engineering department,” Alexander goes on to say. “Sometimes IT and OT offer different solutions to the same business problem – and in many cases they aren’t collaborating very well. The key to really getting Industry 4.0 rolling? Ensuring that IT and OT are on the same page and working together to achieve their shared ambition.”

the key to really getting Industry 4.0 rolling? Ensuring that IT and OT are on the same page and working together to achieve their shared ambition
Alexander Naessens, Factory of the Future key program lead at delaware

From competing to cooperating

OT and IT have been competing since Industry 3.0, making it difficult to successfully implement technological solutions. Alexander: “And the rise of the new innovative technologies of Industry 4.0 are only making it worse. Both IT and OT are embedding these innovations such as AI, ML, AR/VR in their solutions. But also the strategic & operational stakeholders themselves, are jumping on these new technologies. This just makes it harder and harder for anybody to get anything done and achieve real impacts.”

In addition, companies often work with completely different consulting firms to implement OT vs. IT solutions, and these firms themselves are also not very keen to share information with their competitors. “The question of ‘whose tool is better?’ is totally self-defeating here,” says Alexander. “What happens when you have separate Industry 4.0 pilot projects running in both OT and IT? They each fizzle out. This is because not one single domain or one single supplier can succeed alone. It’s necessary to form an Industry 4.0 coalition.”

not one single tech domain or one single supplier can succeed on its own. It’s necessary to form an Industry 4.0 coalition
Alexander Naessens, Factory of the Future key program lead at delaware

Teaming up to step up

At delaware, we have developed an Industry 4.0 roadmap that involves every stakeholder – IT and OT, strategy and operations, delaware and other suppliers – in the process of solving your business challenges.

industry 4 0 roadmap fig 1

“This roadmap is composed of three separate phases, starting from the definition of the business challenges and priorities,” Alexander explains. “Once we have defined the business priorities that should be tackled, the next step is to define an Industry 4.0 architecture which contains the solutions that are needed to deliver the data and the tools that the business requires, now and in the future. To accelerate this phase, we have created a reference architecture that bundles our best practices and lessoned learned to give an answer to the FAQs of our customers. In this way, you never have to start 100% from scratch. The final step is to define a roadmap based on this architecture: what projects shoud we do first? This way, our customers get a comprehensive roadmap, developed by the entire Industry 4.0 coalition and covering both OT and IT solutions.”

Interested in learning more about how our Industry 4.0 roadmap and reference architecture work in practice?

Download our reference architecture explainer sheet

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