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Getting Started on Industry 4.0 – Step 4:  Implementation and Follow Through

Getting Started on Industry 4.0 – Step 4: Implementation and Follow Through

By Scott Phillips

In this fourth and final post of this series focused on helping small and medium manufacturers get started on their Industry 4.0 journey, I will discuss key considerations for the implementation and follow through of your “Smart Manufacturing Roadmap” (SMR). Let’s recap our journey to this point:

  • In Step 1, we learned how to conduct an Industry 4.0 self-assessment.
  • In Step 2, we focused on identification of organizational constraints.
  • In Step 3, I provided instruction for building your own SMR.

Principles to keep in mind for assessment

Here are four critical assessment principles that will result in more effective implementation and ongoing use of your Smart Manufacturing Roadmap:

  • The index uses Industry 4.0 concepts as its reference point. Future manufacturing and industrial concepts and technologies should also be taken into consideration, if relevant.
  • All 16 dimensions should be taken into consideration. The importance and relevance of each pillar and dimension will vary, depending on a company’s current and future needs, and the nature of its industry.
  • The focus should not be on achieving Band 5 across all dimensions. Instead, a company should strive towards a higher band based on specific business needs and aspirations.
  • The index should be used on an ongoing basis, rather than for a one-off assessment.

Revisiting our machine shop example

In the third post of this series, I provided an example of a machine shop that identified the following four dimensions as being critical to their short-term survival:

  • Vertical Integration
  • Shop Floor Automation
  • Enterprise Connectivity
  • Workforce Learning & Development

The machine shop identified their current state band and future state band for each of the four critical dimensions, assessed their internal organizational constraints, and then used that information to create their own SMR.

Self Assessment

Dimension Current State Future State
Vertical Integration Defined: Resource planning and technical production processes are managed and executed in silos, based on a set of formally defined instructions Automated: OT and IT systems managing the resource planning and technical production processes are formally linked, with the exchange of data across functions mostly executed by equipment, machinery and computer-based systems
Shop Floor Automation Basic: Production processes are executed by humans with the assistance of equipment, machinery and computer-based systems Flexible: Equipment, machinery and computer-based systems can be modified, reconfigured, and re-tasked quickly and easily when needed. Limited human intervention required for unplanned events
Enterprise Connectivity Connected: There are formal network links that will enable computer-based systems to interact or exchange information Real-Time: Interoperable and secure network links across the different computer-based systems are able to interact or exchange information as it is generated without delay
Workforce Learning & Development Informal: There is no formal L&D curriculum to on-board and train the workforce Integrated: There is a continuous L&D curriculum that is integrated with organizational objectives, talent attraction and career development pathways

Smart Manufacturing Roadmap

Smart Manufacturing Roadmap

Envision your SMR as a strategic “guardrail”

From my experience, the best use of the SMR is as a strategic decision making “guardrail” for your business. Building Industry 4.0 capability is a journey over time, which is why it’s best to have an SMR with crawl, walk, and run phases. While this journey plays out, your business will still have day-to-day decisions to make and projects to execute relative to people, lean processes, shop floor technology, and information technology.

My advice is to ensure that your decision making processes for capital purchases, operating expenses, employee training and development, and lean process improvement initiatives all include a screen against the SMR. In other words, this discipline should become part of your company culture. It should provide the means and incentives for your business leaders, managers, supervisors, and hourly employees to always ask, “How does this decision impact our Smart Manufacturing Roadmap?” While there may not always be a crisp answer, the value comes from the ensuing discussions that this question triggers and the organizational alignment that these discussions will create over time. Everyone in the organization should also be encouraged and empowered to ask other questions like these:

  • How does this decision, purchase, or implementation move us forward on vertical integration (as an example)?
  • How does this decision move us from our current state to our future state?
  • Where are we today in the crawl, walk, run timeline for this Industry 4.0 dimension?

In the end, as with many good lean practices, the SMR will be as effective as the degree to which it is implemented throughout the business at all levels. The Smart Manufacturing Roadmap must be followed consistently over time, with buy-in from all levels and departments of the organization, rather than as a “flavor of the day” issued to selected personnel from the front office.

Scott Phillips

About the author

Scott Phillips is the founder of Connected Factory Global (CFG), a research and consulting firm that helps manufacturers develop Smart Manufacturing Roadmaps to drive their future competitiveness. Scott is a veteran of product innovation, business development, marketing strategy and entrepreneurship. He has experience across many industries and has held leadership positions with Whirlpool Corporation, Fortune Brands and Burger King Corporation. Scott received his M.B.A. from Wayne State University and his B.A. from Michigan State University.

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