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Industry 4.0 - Quest study

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Interview to new Quest study about Industry 4.0 in German machinery industry

The current process of the realization of Industry 4.0 in automation and its prospect in machinery industry

Quest TechnoMarketing conducted in-depth interviews with 150 German machine-builders about the relevance of Industry 4.0 in practice for the machinery industry. That concerns 23% of the machine-builder with 100 and more employees in ten important sectors. The results provide a study with 200 pages. The editorship of the Quest Trend Magazine spoke to Thomas Quest about the benefits of this study for machine-builders and automation manufacturers.

Update June 13th, 2016 - Mr. Quest, there are already so many studies and articles about Industry 4.0, why do you offer still further 200 pages?  

(Quest laughing): One may actually ask oneself! The machine-builders themselves provided the response to this. The interest in the results of this study was ever not as pronounced as this time.

Foto Thomas Quest
Thomas Quest

How did that express itself?  

We had announced to report on some results and in the end of the interview it was often asked, when this would be the case. However, most important was the pronounced willingness to have talks to the keyword „Relevance of Industry 4.0 for the machinery industry in practice“. That met exactly the interest and therein the 200 pages have their authorization.  

Isn't that surprising, if one thinks of the abundance of publications already quoted?

Not in whole. In the preliminary investigation we could find mainly two styles in publications. The one style takes individual aspects of Industry 4.0 absolutely. One indicates „undreamt possibilities for business“ or intensifies model-like the technological possibilities of Industry 4.0 without losing a word about customer benefits and economic conditions. The other style treats the various aspects of Industry 4.0 as equivalent and combines them differently in each case. This in turn generates the impression, everyone understands Industry 4.0 something else. Obviously both styles do not satisfy machine-builders and that is justified according to our opinion.  

And in contrast which style provides the new study?

Well, four features are coming together. Firstly the study does not only document a wealth of technological changes toward Industry 4.0 but also the benefit aspects, machine-builders want to realize for themselves and for their customers thereby. The benefit aspects are the base for five business models that are seen by machine-builders for themselves. So the study combines technology, benefit and outlook, instead of separating or isolating them.

And the other three features?

Industry 4.0 has technologically many aspects. The so-called cyber physical system, CPS, belongs to the fundamental, constitutive features of Industry 4.0. It does not exhaust completely Industry 4.0 in technological regard; however, Industry 4.0 without CPS does not take place. So as second feature the study sets technologically a clear emphasis on CPS, with which each interview was initiated.

And the third feature?

The third feature concerns the application of the immanent method. The study divides all denominations of the machine-builders into five development stages to Industry 4.0. Three development stages classify the changes whether the CPS is sporadically, as subsystem or as overall system realized. A fourth development stage determines changes that will be only realized after 2016 and a fifth one changes toward Industry 4.0 without having the character of a CPS yet. So no external, absolute scale but development stages that are derived from the process of realization itself.  

So immanent method instead of those styles in publications, already quoted.  

Exactly. The realization of Industry 4.0 is taking place as process. The immanent method corresponds exactly to this process, instead of subjecting it to process-extrinsic criteria.

And finally the fourth feature?

The fourth feature is the future orientation of the study. The realization of Industry 4.0 is not taking place chaotically but according to certain structures. Since structures do not change fast, this is a view at the same time into the future. The first part of the study reveals these structures on 40 pages and highlights future trends. So we get to know the two development stages, Industry 4.0 will realize itself and the two development types that will occur. We experience the two aspects of Industry 4.0 as the base for benefit potentials and business models and the four starting points for machine-builders to realize Industry 4.0. Finally we get to know the baselines of the changes for machine-builders and their end-users. And regarding the automation manufacturers this view into the future presents five medium-term sequences of Industry 4.0 for discussion.  

You are often referring to changes of machine automation by the machine-builders. Which changes are concretely concerned?

The study differentiates between machine-related and machine-overall changes. The eleven investigated machine-related changes concern machine operation, vertical networking of the machine into MES and ERP, Condition Monitoring, Predictive Maintenance, RFID for asset tracking and RFID for product tracking, robot use to making the mechanics more flexible, steps to self-optimizing production, plug and produce-capable machine modules, intelligent power and load management at drives, finally mechatronic Intralogistics by linear motors. The machine-overall changes refer to clouds, Systems Engineering, virtual creation/simulation of machines, self-adjustment with line-ups and 3D printer.  

Which access does the reader get to these changes?  

The study quotes more than 500 statements of the machine-builders to all changes, benefit aspects benefit and business models. Of course, these statements are made anonymous; however, the sector of the related machine-builder is indicated. The statements regarding the changes are allocated to the development stages being contentwise determined in each case. This generates a process image of the development stages, machine automation is changing toward Industry 4.0.     

Finally in brief, why should be used this study by both automation manufactures and machine-builders?

Automation suppliers and machine-builders may use the wealth of concrete changes as trigger and roadmap for own changes. Beyond that the determination of the realization structures of Industry 4.0 provides the base to adopt the own product and market processing strategy. These processes will be supported by us via workshops on-site.

hanks for the interview.