Steel construction representing the Industry 4.0

On 5 April 2016, the German consultancy firm Roland Berger organized a digital workshop based on industry 4.0 at Numa in Paris. Agorize was there too – and this is what we found out.

Also known as the fourth industrial revolution, industry 4.0 is a German initiative that aims to maintain the country’s position as a leader on the industrial stage through new technology.

This digital workshop was both pragmatic and operation-focused. The aim? To determine concrete steps to take at the European level to give industry a sustainable place in the digital age.

Logo of Roland Berger which organise a digital workshop about industry 4.0Logo of Numa where the digital workshop industry 4.0 took place

If we had to sum up industry 4.0 in 10 points, we’d say that it’s:

1) The reorganization of production methods based both on systems where IT elements work together to control and monitor physical (or cyber-physical) entities and on the use of the Internet of Things.

2) A way of changing the production strategy paradigm and even the very face of companies.

3) The development of smart factories – a term that refers to factories that use much more adaptable production strategies and systems. They also allow resources to be allocated much more efficiently.

4) A transformation process that began 5 years ago in Germany and the United States thanks to initiatives such as the Industry 4.0 Platform and the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership 2.0, which have been designed to promote technological development.

5) New, innovative and highly advantageous business models, both in terms of production methods and at the production level itself. Take the concept of the ‘Speed Factory’ as an example – through machine automation, production becomes more agile, more independent, and above all, more efficient.

6) A way of reducing the amount of capital deployed and of noticeably increasing ROI.

7) The arrival and development of new professions, including data scientists, developers, data managers, and more.

8) A way of creating a much more flexible working environment and of promoting entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.

9) A powerful driver of high value-added jobs. But there’s also a major drawback – what about the jobs that will be destroyed due to large-scale automation? To overcome this challenge, retraining for today’s operators will be essential.

10) A huge challenge, as industry stakeholders will have to manage how they protect their data and their techniques. They’ll also have to create international standards to mitigate any potential for error.

Unfortunately, Europe is quite a way behind some countries, such as the United States, which has already carried out the regulatory and economic spadework needed to cross the Atlantic and take on the entire continent. That’s why Europe needs to act now to accelerate its industrial digitalization process. And to do this, the entire industrial sector needs to be convinced to get on board, including SMEs.

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