Deux ingénieurs regardent un objet connecté dans une usine

Industry 4.0: Obstacles and Challenges

Technological advancements are causing profound transformations in the manufacturing sector. They are challenging the effectiveness and functionality of “traditional” factories. Work structures, factory culture, business models and even strategic visions are subject to shift.

The factory of the future is knocking on Industry’s door and factories are now taking it upon themselves to transform themselves and go digital.

As part of Industry 4.0, Intelligence Industrielle wants to help make it successful by creating solution-solving technology and by informing stakeholders about what is at risk, what are the key parts and who are the key players of Industry 4.0.


New Skill Requirements

When factories begin to innovate through Industry 4.0, how work and production structures will change is a crucial question to answer. Before anything can happen, the first challenge is to talk to internal players about what Industry 4.0 is and discuss with them which industry 4.0 technologies are best for improving the factory’s functions. People in the enterprise will be concerned with any changes made to the current system and need to be engaged in discussions about the different strategies concerning the organization itself and the implications for workers.

The arrival of IIot (Industrial Internet of Things) and smart sensors in factories is not due to new organizational systems being put in place. It is usually the other way around. IIoT and smart sensors trigger changes to pre-existing organizational systems. The daily work transforms, the workforce needs to be adjusted and new skills need to be learned. It requires a look at the pre-existing skills and employees and how to adapt them to new needs and, sometimes, the emergence of new functions and professionals into the factory. The major challenge that faces the enterprise is to transition current employees into new roles and recruit outside help in the meantime.  Depending on the workforce, new Industry 4.0 expertise is needed, especially when It comes to the internet of objects, data science, programming, artificial intelligence, robotics, automation (Ministère de l’Économie, Science et Innovation Québec), but equally when it comes to analytics, the conception of user interfaces and interactions between workers and machines.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has the task of modernizing the production of goods and services, reducing delays and costs of production, improving the quality of products and creating flexible structures that allow for further innovation. But for this transformation to take place, the human piece is undeniably one of the greatest challenges, and it is important at every employee level. Although the digital revolution redefines the tasks of factory workers, these changes also require them to update their skills and know-how. According to the Quebec Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation, this will allow workers to develop new skills needed for working with new technologies, solving complex problems, analyzing data, securing informational assets, adapting to new innovations, and developing IT skills. All skills that are becoming unavoidable to not have in a factory work setting.


Look Out for New Technology

Factory managers need to be ready to anticipate digital evolutions and technologies. For this, they must keep a close eye on up-and-coming technologies and their trends.

Going forward, the first material of production efficiency will be data, (Big Data). The technologies and the tools that allow us to use digital information brings with it a new way to interact with machines. The tasks of operators are fortified by having access to new digital capabilities, which makes way for more autonomy for operators to control and analyze the performance of the machines. It allows for more fulfilling tasks that include taking on the responsibility of monitoring real-time data and having the ability to interact, constancy, with the machine.

Factories can’t just be aware of IoT technologies, they must understand their applications and capabilities. These technologies can optimize existing systems and make them more efficient. They also often mean shifts towards new business models like those of SaaS (Software as a Service) and subscriber services. These new factory business models are quieter revolutions occurring in the Industry 4.0 space.

All that said, the future of these new systems, with information and data at its core, requires analytical capabilities, innovation and constant adaptation in order to respond to paradigm shifts taking place in factories.


Translation of article: Enjeux et défis de l’Industrie 4.0 Juliette Martinez

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