Digitalisation in the Industry 4.0

Digitization is the order of the day. And as it is relevant to companies in every industry, it is of paramount importance to companies in the manufacturing sector. Industrial manufacturing companies are facing the challenges of digitalization on their way to the so-called Industry 4.0.

Digitization does not happen at the push of a button

The digitization is not buyable. Digitization can not be implemented at the push of a button. In its first step, it is initially a product of fundamental decision and psychological motivation. Studies such as "Psychology of Digitization" by innovation alliance refer to the psychological and also philosophical aspects of the digital revolution. Digitization means change and much greater flexibility, and will not happen without friction losses. Therefore, it is important that digitization is accompanied and promoted at company level, and that the responsibility towards customers and employees is located 'at the top'. A Chief Information Officer (CIO) may, for example, exercise this role, as an article of the Computerwoche aptly describes.

Digitization in the industrial sector 4.0 does not mean to achieve even more process optimization in the production process, while at the same time increasing production quality or creating cost advantages. These are, rather consequences of digitization. It is the industry's digitization that makes manufacturing and operations more efficient and productive and that makes it possible to integrate them into a networked environment and to individualize the production of goods.

IPMWS and MES in the industry 4.0

In the industrial goods sector, software programs of the most varied kind are introduced, which are highly available and network-linked in a quasi-location-dependent manner. In addition, IPMWS and Manufacturing Execution System (MES) will not only provide control commands and error analysis, but will also adapt production and operations in regard to customer requirements as well as to raw material availability, company liquidity and logistical requirements. And this is and will be done largely autonomously and in real time.

MES, in particular, will gain in importance by shifting the effort of ERP software programs, which are traditionally more productive, to more production-integrated systems. In future, MES will run all processes that have a timely impact on the production and production process. Even if goods are already in operation, they will continue to be integrated into their original production environment in the future, because industry 4.0 production is learning from the mistakes of the production output of the pre-production and is thus continuously improved.

Integrated machines optimize their logistics

A key component of industry 4.0 is to optimize and align the logistical processes around the machine. While the machine is doing her tasks, she interacts with the MES. This then, for example, forwards the state of production to the downstream ERP system, communicates cost-relevant process data, records the need for production resources or the need for maintenance, and perhaps also processes data that is important for depreciation or insurance requirements. Aggregated and interpreted, this data helps to align the ecosystem around machines in industry 4.0 to the truly optimal operation and generation. A manual feedback can be omitted. Even for legacy systems that are not yet digitized embedded, mobile components or local control tablets can be retrofitted until their lifecycle is extinguished. Here, a well-trained staff is in demand, because he can support where the optimally networked production and operating environment reaches its limits.

Industry 4.0 goes through all departments

However, the digitization of production and operation has not yet been done. Networking is spread throughout the company. Central ERP systems replace insulations; The understanding of processes and data needs to be harmonized. ITSM and ITIL are considered to be modern standardized frameworks in operation. But of course there is still a long way to go. It would be nice if, for example, a transport robot would recognize a new job during operation and automatically pick up the unit and transmit the weight into the ERP system. From there the shipping carrier would be informed about the type and destination of the delivery, the weight would be printed directly on the delivery note, a transport insurance would be made, the invoice would be triggered and after delivery an e-mail would be sent directly to the customer and a re-order would be disposed. Sounds almost simple and logical, but it is complex because of the requirements for technically secure infrastructures and communication paths in the traditional data networks and  common interface configurations.

Industry 4.0 needs appropriate partners

In order to successfully complete the process of digitizing production and operation in industry 4.0, the company also needs know-how and capital in addition to its willingness to implement and develop a strategy. It would be a good thing to trust partners. Partners who meet the often medium-sized industrial companies on an equal footing and help them with software development expertise, process and project management know-how, managed services for operation or simply through expert consulting. At the same time, the requirements on the amount of capital employed should be manageable, investments should be low. Collaboration with suppliers and customers is required. But also partners for the operation of the infrastructure are gladly seen. Those who understand the needs of industrial customers and accompany them for a long time. The necessary computing power, the necessary applications and systems can migrate into the public cloud or run as hybrid IaaS structures. This would exclude both the investment risk and considerably reduce the operating expenses. Partners for the connection of the systems or their physical networking by means of secured data lines efficiently support the encrypted transmission of necessary parameters. If an industrial enterprise is still looking for a service provider for the processing of all types of data, including personal data, a partner from Germany meets exactly their needs, because then an industry 4.0 company would always be "master of the data" - keyword: data sovereignty. In ProfitBricks as an original German provider of cloud services and 1 & 1 Versatel as a leading German provider of communication for medium-sized companies and large companies you'll find efforts to digitize the industry in the direction of 4.0.