Industry 4.0 from the eyes of a Myth breaker

Let us look at Industry 4.0 from the eyes of a Myth breaker discussing four myths about the fourth industrial revolution.

First myth: “Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution”

If the first industrial revolution was concerned with water and steam, the second one with electricity and the third one with automation, are we now on the threshold of the next industrial revolution? This depends on one’s point of view. If we look at it from the perspective of industrial production and specifically of an individual production plant, we are mostly dealing with an upgrade of third generation resources. Pioneering implementers like Protacon have already worked for years with communication between devices and independent automation. Technology becoming a part of everyday life gives this phenomenon rather a “David and Goliath” nature. The more practical aspects of Industry 4.0 and ecosystems can help small operators enter larger markets. For Goliaths, it provides an opportunity to create competitive edge using a wider arsenal of methods than previously. Thus, the myth is partly true. It is indeed a revolution but rather from the point of view of the entire company strategy than from that of industrial production.

Second myth: “To implement Industry 4.0, select the partner who provides a service for data collection”

This is a myth and nothing but a red herring to distract common smart technology users. I am saying this even though we also have our own data collection service at Protacon. Data collection, management of data flow and data storing in the cloud are things that are most often fulfilled when practicality increases. The history of all cloud platforms is that they always originate from an environment and are designed for a certain application that the service provider tries to expand to suit a larger market. We can learn from history. When banks changed their data flow to a digital format, would the correct partner for implementing this always have been the one who provided a data transfer platform? We would hardly ever have reached a situation where services could have radically diversified and the whole earning logic could have been renewed and digitalised. When selecting the partner, more attention should be paid to those who understand both digitalisation and automation. Expertise based on the mere data transfer logic may take the focus of development to a completely wrong direction.

Third myth: “Big data is the road to success when building Industry 4.0”

This is both true and a myth. Decentralised production, more independent equipment, a shift to the service world and a stronger real-time focus on production management produce and require more information and bit streams compared to the earlier scheme of things. However, at the same time, leading the company, being organised, and the production strategy in fact require more human leading skills. An independent production plant can now be better optimised using ready-made algorithms. Instead, a company or product strategy in accordance with Industry 4.0 creates a complex situation where the combination of success factors can be found in the leadership style that only a human mind can create.

Fourth myth: “Competitive advantage can only be achieved if all of the six principles of Industry 4.0 are followed”

This is a myth. The market is full of operators stating that particular software or a set of software applications is the answer to the development of Industry 4.0. Every day, we experience, see and create things that utilise one or some of the six design principles. Based on our experience, it is agility, experience, fail fast and learn rapidly that pave the way for success. It is not worth trying to build Industry 4.0 in one go.

Jarkko Kosonen

Kirjoittaja Jarkko Kosonen

Business director at Protacon. Digital transformation and change leadership as my vocational profession. My hobbies include ice hockey, golf and snorkeling.