When one thinks of digitisation and Big Data, one cannot help feeling that the key trends of this era were started by global players such as Google and Apple. Can Europe hold a candle to them? This is hard to say, in any event on their own turf. But if we look at the theme Industry version 4.0, it is different. Here it is anybody’s “race” – with a chance for Europe to take the lead.
Thinking processes from the very beginning
For this venture to succeed, it takes more than the industrial landscape of the “old world” that has worldwide appreciation. Development must be driven on all levels. Not only machines must be networked. The IT systems of the future must be able to illustrate procedural landscapes and be likewise integrated – including ERP and ECM systems. Because they manage data that is indispensable for operating smarter factories. This is what is meant when we speak of horizontal and vertical integration.
Industry Version 4.0 is merely holistic
For materials, energy and information flow within a company, which sometimes exceeds its limits, this horizontal and vertical integration is indispensable. An example: it is undoubtedly an achievement when machines communicate with each other and humans only intervene in the processes if necessary. However, it is precisely in this case, that if small maintenance teams intervene only rarely in controlling the factories of the future, they must have more complete equipment histories, process descriptions and protocols.
This is especially true when multiple teams working in different locations in different parts of the world work hand in hand – keyword Collaboration. An example that shows M2M communication is an essential part of modern production. But it is only one piece of a puzzle with many more pieces.
There is another thing that is needed more: inter-disciplinary collaboration. The boundaries between previously separate sectors such as telecommunications and industry are becoming increasingly blurred. Only with the talent in all of these areas, will it be possible to push Europe’s fourth industrial revolution – and strike a blow for the continent’s exports. As the first one did more than two hundred years ago.