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Digitalization and Industry 4.0

What is your interpretation of “Digitalization” or “Industry 4.0”and what is ours? This section will provide insight as to why we believe that using Open Source is inevitable in this field.
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Digitalization has been present in industry focused media for years now. Over the years a large amount of articles have been written discussing a variety of aspects, which at times can make it difficult to find answers to even the most simple of questions: How does this benefit me?


How can you profit from Industry 4.0?

The OECD busied itself with this question in its report “Digitalization and Productivity, A story of complimentaries”. In this study, its researchers found that digitalization enables significant productivity increases. While not entirely capable of compensating for economic slumps, which is why productivity in the below graph stagnates in 2012, as a result of the financial crisis, but it can reduce its impact. From the graph, we can see that productivity (standardized to 100 in 2009) especially increases at a high level of digitalization, as such, we can deduce that companies profit from a high level of digitalization.

(Daten: OECD 2019: Digitalization and Productivity, A story of complimentaries)

What is digitalization?

Digitalization describes a variety of measures to make business process information and data digitally available. In an industry context, the term Industry 4.0 has become the common description for it. A variety of applications in this field exists, from production monitoring to the full surveillance of machine and sensor values to track and optimize machines.

This way, damage or wear can be detected early, allowing for the optimal time to exchange tools or avoiding expensive production downtimes. Well known metrics like OEE can be calculated automatically, and presented to management in an elegant and comfortable fashion. Other advantages of digitalization can be found in administrating supply and tracking of raw materials, all the way down the production line to the customer. This way, the origin of quality problems can be swiftly identified.

Beyond these, additional uses are the optimization of recipes and configurations. Based on machine data and data analysis, machines and production recipes can be adjusted to minimize rejects and maximize quality, or even do live optimization based on the state of the machine and used tools.

Various areas of production can be remotely monitored and administrated. Production managers can at any time and independently of location check if production and quality requirements are met, without having to rely on handwritten lists.


A valuable chance

The topics described in this article are only a fraction of the possibilities opened up by industrial digitalization. Sensible and goal oriented digitalization measures, accompanied by appropriate process and change management to involve all stake holders, have a significant potential to increase productivity and to open up new business segments. Appropriate measures are largely depending on the industry in question, but there are a variety of similarities, enabling the ability to learn from the experiences of others. This way, companies who start early with their digitalization processes, can benefit signifnicantly from it.