Episode Overview

 “The jury’s in. By doing these things, you will improve across the board these metrics. And sometimes you simply have to choose a horse. It may not be the winning horse, but you have to get on the horse. 

Industry 4.0 has been around for years. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Industry greats like John Broadbent, Founder of Realise Potential, have been exploring the benefits of a new era of manufacturing technology since the early ’90s.

Part 1 of Zen and the Art of Manufacturing, features Bryan Sapot, SensrTrx CEO and John Broadbent exploring the history of industry 4.0, how it’s expanded throughout the years, why stewardship is essential to executing industry 4.0 initiatives, and tips for implementing it at your own plant.

This episode embodies the past, present, and future of industry 4.0 and John’s name for the role key to encouraging industry 4.0 growth – stewardship.

“By doing these things, you will improve across the board.”

In the second part of John Broadbent’s interview with SensrTrx’s Founder and CEO, Bryan Sapot, the two discuss getting started with Industry 4.0 and why it doesn’t need to be hard or expensive.

According to John, you may need to enact Industry 3.0 first, and that’s ok, but at least you’re starting somewhere. The concept of a connected, smart manufacturer isn’t going anywhere. It’s a proven idea. But, if you get on the horse, you’re entering the race and working towards that idea.

“We’ve got a decade of information and experience to show this stuff does work.”

The concept of a smart factory has been around for a long time

John Broadbent has experienced many of the different iterations of Industry 4.0, having begun his career in the early-90’s. Back then, the concept of a smart factory was more complex and challenging to accomplish, but nonetheless, the concept has been around for a while. While there is always room for growth, Industry 4.0 and the smart factory has given us the ability to integrate systems that may not have talked to each other previously.

It’s given us visibility into our plants, from on all levels. There is no doubt these concepts will continue to grow and evolve, but one thing is definite – the level of visibility and connectedness has and will continue to profoundly help manufacturers.

Hub & spoke is the only way to organize the smart factory

As the concept of a smart factory grew so did all of the technologies available to manufacturers. There needed to be a way to effectively organize all of the software systems and how they work together in a smart factory. How could manufacturers connect these systems and get complete visibility into their processes? Cue hub and spoke.

The hub is the integration platform, and each spoke is the branches, or the systems connecting to the overarching platform. You don’t need to worry about cross integrations because these spokes sit out there as islands essentially.

This mode of organization allows manufacturers to use all of the technology and software available to improve processes while understanding how these systems work together. The hub and spoke provides a high-level view of operations.

Where do I even start in implementing Industry 4.0 and creating a smart factory?

Did you know that the average food and beverage manufacturer in Australia collects 900,000 sheets of paper per year?

That’s insane, and a great example of manufacturers needing to take automate and embrace Industry 4.0 initiatives.

If you haven’t implemented Industry 3.0, this is the first step. Start by replacing outdated data collection and reporting methods such as Excel and paper. Look at available technologies or systems that can help you accomplish this. You don’t have to start big. There are less expensive ways to get started by starting small and getting something valuable. But, the key is to simply start.

This approach eliminates all of the heavy lifting previously done. “By doing these things, you will improve across the board,” John says. Getting started doesn’t need to be hard or expensive.

When systems like these are in place, then you can begin to dive further into a truly connected, visual factory and Industry 4.0 If you get on the horse, as John explains, you’re entering the race and working towards the idea of a smart factory.

Yes, this includes technology connectivity, but also concepts like machine learning.

“Machine learning as a concept, providing lots of opportunity, a lot of people are afraid purely from a lack of understanding of what it is,” John explains.

The pyramid of data

There are 3 pillars of this data pyramid, adapted for manufacturing by John.

The bottom piece is data collection. You have to be able to collect the data whether that’s from the machine PLC, a sensor, or even your operators. This is the fundamental foundational piece. When you’re able to get a single view of your data, you are able to make strategic business decisions (see more detail on this in the next paragraph).

Then, you have to do something with it. This is the contextualization piece. You’re taking the data and making it translate into actionable insights. Maybe, it’s going to into an HMI, SCADA, MES, or database.

The next layer up is the concept of governance and stewardship. This we will talk about in greater detail below, but this is a role in an organization that monitors and understands the data. It is the key to being successful with Industry 4.0 initiatives.

John mentions a report written by McKinsey, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and manufacturing’s great reset” that embodies these concepts. In its analysis of the Global Lighthouse Network (GLN), McKinsey summarizes how “advanced manufacturers has demonstrated how leading companies can work toward realizing the full potential of the innovations and advances at the core of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).”

Many of these companies follow the structure of the pyramid of data.

Those manufacturers “reflect the accelerating adoption of core 4IR technologies, and their infusion into daily manufacturing and supply-chain operations, as organizations act on a new urgency to remain competitive – even as others have fallen behind, still stuck in pilot purgatory.”

Why do you need a steward to bridge the gap?

Stewardship is essential to executing Industry 4.0 initiative. This role bridges the gap between all of the different systems. This person or team of people makes sure data has been collected accurately and correctly, contextualizes it, and does something with it. Basically, they make sense of the data and turns it into actionable insights for the company to act upon.

But, more often than not, this is an overlooked piece of the Industry 4.0 and smart factory puzzle. Stewardship is not a role many manufacturers deem essential, well at least not yet, John says.

“At that stewardship level, that role is typically not fulfilled in the manufacturing environment. So, you have all the contextualization pieces at the bottom but you don’t have one person or a team generally responsible for the quality, frequency, cleansing, or format of the data.”

When this role is not fulfilled, achieving goals becomes much more difficult. It becomes much harder to embrace Industry 4.0.

As more and more manufacturers embrace Industry 4.0 and smart factory initiatives, “You will see the rise of the new role that will be the stewardship role,” he explains.

What does stewardship look like for a small manufacturer?

Let’s start by reiterating that smart factory initiatives don’t have to be complex or difficult. The key is to just start somewhere. This applies to manufacturers of all sizes, small or large.

For small manufacturers, in particular, you can make small changes that begin to transform your organization and move away from manual processes. And, yes, the stewardship role is still just as important as it would be to a large manufacturer.

Often for small manufacturers, the stewardship role becomes a hybrid role. Maybe this is someone that is an industrial systems engineer and among regular day-to-day job activities, they ensure data is going in correctly and comes out contextualized. They’re taking that data and determining actionable insights.

It’s important to note that even though companies may be small, a stewardship role, even if it’s hybrid, is important to fulfill. This person will play a vital role in your company, driving it towards success.

Start small and begin with the end in mind

“The jury’s in. By doing these things, you will improve across the board these metrics. And sometimes you simply have to choose a horse. It may not be the winning horse, but you have to get on the horse. You have to get in the race, and even if you come dead last, in other words, if you don’t achieve the outcomes that you thought you might, it doesn’t matter. You will have learned something along the way and you’re not paralyzed, held in the past, with your head in the sand being skeptical that this will never work.”

“We’ve got a decade worth of experience and information now to show that this stuff does work. What you need to do is start small… begin with the end in mind.”

The key is to envision where you want to be in the future and work backward from that vision. Maybe that means starting with Industry 3.0, for now, but working your way to a truly connected smart factory. Whatever the goal, the key is to just get started and get moving.

Where do you see things going in the next 5 or 10 years?

The Industry 4.0 and smart factory concept follows the typical bell curve ideology that we’ve seen so many new ideas follow.

There will be early adopters who take the idea and run with it. Then, there will be those manufacturers who fall into the general majority and accept that they need to adopt the technology. And lastly, you’ll have the laggards who refuse to believe they need to adopt but will eventually be forced to keep up with the standard.

“Most manufacturers aren’t in front of the curve. There are organizations that will drag the chain, but there are others who will recognize it’s an opportunity,” John says.

The manufacturers who recognize it as an opportunity will know where they want to be to put the landscape in place. Each iteration they do, they will learn from it. They will celebrate failure. The culture will start to take notice, and changes will result. Success is very, very likely when this approach is taken.

These same manufacturers will integrate legacy systems and software into this new emerging world of connectivity. They’ll start investing in new technologies, maybe not all at once, but the efforts will be made.

And, as more manufacturers adopt these concepts, you’ll see the rise of the new stewardship role that John referenced in this podcast.

Connect and Share

John Broadbent is the Founder and Director of Realise Potential, Industry 4.0 educator, smart factory specialist, advisory board member, and coach based in Sydney, Australia. If you would like to learn more about the topics discussed in this podcast, reach out to John via LinkedIn.

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