Industry 4.0, where to start?
After the tremendous impact of the crisis of 2008 and 2009 it seemed that once their effects were mitigated with more or less drastic adjustment measures and after a sufficient number of years, the world and Europe and Spain in particular were going to return to the path of growth . However, and although there have been some ups and downs since then, everything points to a transient and unstable situation, and even at the macroeconomic level there are many well-known theories that speak of a ‘new normal’ or ‘secular stagnation’ , Characterized by slow economic growth at the global level.
This situation forces companies to move in a complicated environment where change is going to be constant and will mean creating more flexible structures with a combination of very short-term strategies – horizon of 1-2 years – with bets of Have to be sustained over time but can not receive sufficient resources for faster deployment. Access to money and credit can be easy due to its low cost, but at the same time the situation of global uncertainty will make it difficult to make large investments because of the difficulty of guaranteeing their return.
Therefore, those companies that are agile enough to take advantage of short-term situations, but at the same time are able to maintain a line of development oriented towards a slow but progressive transformation of their products, processes and business model, will survive and Grow in the coming years.
This longer-term transformation has to be based on the precepts of industry 4.0. And among many other authoritative voices, as the Ministry of Industry notes in its paper on connected industry 4.0, ‘the digitization of our industry is a key opportunity for improving the competitiveness of Spanish industry in an increasingly global market . In fact, other economies in our environment have also taken initiatives to take advantage of it and, if we do not act quickly, Spain is in danger of falling behind in this new industrial revolution. Consequently, we need to address a profound transformation of our industry, and the digital engine must be key in this regard. Http://www.industriaconectada40.gob.es/Paginas/Index.aspx
On the other hand, today technology and knowledge can be relatively accessible and companies can find technological centers, universities, suppliers and in general what are being called ‘enablers’ for any technological field included in the Industry 4.0 concept. Funding for projects in this area may also be accessible thanks to low interest rates and the promotion of specific public funding programs.
The message therefore is clear and meridian and the means exist. The road to industry 4.0 is no longer an option and therefore it seems that the question on which to work is the reduction of uncertainty as discussed above. For this there are many things a company can do. Openness to technology centers, active participation in clusters or associations and ultimately overcoming the barriers to ‘leaving’ the walls of the company will be key elements that will allow to collect information on the evolution of technologies, standards, market, The competitors and referents and in general of all those elements that can influence the developments of the company.
However, and descending to a more operational level I consider that there may be several factors that may hinder the adoption of industry 4.0 technologies in the company. In the first place a company especially if it is SME, can be overflowed by the possibilities of the technologies of the world 4.0. They are technologies with multiple applications and you can find many use cases, examples and proposals made by many ‘enablers’ and specialized companies, but we are talking about new technologies that are not well known. The success stories are presented in a very favorable way, logically obviating the difficulties that will have occurred in their development and in most cases come from large companies. Here, an example of this. For an SME it can be difficult to be reflected in them and move them to their particular problems and capabilities. In this sense, the development of pilot projects and demonstrators that can give confidence to the real possibilities of technology can be key in the adoption process.
On the other hand, when the focus of the problem is purely from the technology, the possibilities offered to the company can be many, but if the sector, the product and the objectives and capacities of the company are not well known