K 2016 Direct: Brainstorming for Industry 4.0
Is it a concept? A platform? A technology? A philosophy? Is it read “Industrie four point zero” or “Industrie four point O”? The plastics industry veterans at the K show this year will be trying to find the right words and right terms to explain, describe or define Industry 4.0, which represents a new manufacturing era based heavily on data collection and analysis.
The German government and VDMA have been pushing for the new production concept of “Industrie 4.0”, which aims to make factory production more efficient while data of different aspects in the production process can be collected for analysis and further improvements.
The manufacturers who will subscribe to the Industry 4.0 concept will likely be groups of companies who are smart and wanting to have a good control of their machines and production, explained Ulrich Reifenhäuser, Chairman of VDMA Plastics and Rubber Machinery association.
The driver behind Industry 4.0 is customer value, he said. Even though it would take a long time to realize the new approach of production, the benefits that Industry 4.0 can potentially bring to manufacturers are worth the time being spent on developing the digital production platform.
“Industry 4.0 is about organization of different matters. It provides a platform of digital data, and combines the data in a smart way to do business, which leads to better quality products and higher production efficiency,” said Reifenhäuser.
“Productivity will go up with Industry 4.0, which is not just a few IT gimmicks,” he continued. “We need to ask the customers what kind of diagnostic analysis they need. When there is customer value, we can talk about the price.”
He would not anticipate when there will be the first successful example of Industry 4.0 in the plastics industry. It may take more than a decade until Industry 4.0 becomes complete and can be carried out to a satisfactory standard.
“Industry 4.0 is a philosophy and in its early days. It is a platform to develop. It will keep the industry busy for the next few years, and we will show interesting results,” noted Reifenhäuser.
Currently, machine manufacturers in Europe and the US are still developing the concept, or rather, the philosophy. Will there be customers wanting to apply the 4.0 concept to their production in China? Reifenhäuser said China is not ready for Industrie 4.0 yet, not even the big groups of manufacturers, although the market could grow very fast once it is ready.