Industry 4.0: The Digital Plant and Digital Operations
The Digital Plant and Digital Operations
Industry 4.0 is very much in the discovery and definition phase. Early initiatives focus on supply-chain operational optimization, and on new demand-chain revenue streams from data-based services — much of which will require new levels of integration and performance from enterprise-wide infrastructure.
The key question about Industry 4.0 is when and where to invest. Digital technologies can be applied anywhere, but the return may fail to justify the effort. In parallel, enterprises need to look to start-ups to fill gaps traditional vendors cannot serve.
Digital transformation in manufacturing is fundamentally about integrated technology ecosystems, and is inherently cross-functional and enterprise-wide. Functional and technology silos have to be replaced by common processes, platforms, and standards.
Success in Industry 4.0 depends on new philosophies towards organization and technology. IT and OT need to collaborate closely, under one governance entity, with clear ownership and accountability defined for products and platforms.
Cybersecurity is now critical to OT too — and is finally getting the enterprise-wide consideration it merits. OT needs to rely on IT’s expertise in cyber and infosec, rather than duplicating it.
Turnkey solutions are shrinking industry value chains. As innovative manufacturers consolidate product, platforms, and services into turnkey solutions, technology vendors are looking hard from the outside at how to disrupt traditional industries. Delay in pursuing 4.0 initiatives may have long-term existential consequences.