Introduction: Industry 4.0 and transformation – Digital diagnosis
As indicated in the previous article Industry 4.0 and Transformation – Overview, the industrial sector is facing a moment of transition in which the inclusion of new technologies is causing changes both in traditional production systems and in the company’s business models.
It is important to understand this transformation process as a necessary evolution, directed towards a more adaptable, fast and efficient industry 4.0, but also that this change, clearly, must take into account the needs and circumstances of each of the companies that join in.
Before beginning any transformation process, it is important to know the starting situation of the company. For this reason, it is necessary to carry out an initial diagnosis in which the entire value chain is examined in regards to technologies and methodologies employed, and staff skills involved. In order to carry out this initial analysis, it is essential to know the production process and collect all the information related to the methodologies and tools used (process flowcharts, operations map, etc.). The use of other tools, such as the Business Model Canvas (which we will discuss in depth in future articles), allows to describe the business model of any company in a visual way and obtain valuable information about its four main areas: value proposition, customers, infrastructure and economic viability.
From data obtained in this diagnosis, it is easier to classify the company according to its degree of technological and methodological maturity in a company Type 1, basic; Type 2, consolidated; or Type 3, advanced (see Industry 4.0 and transformation – Overview), and it will also allow to select, later, the best transformation itinerary.
At this point, a series of objectives must be established to determine the scope of the transformation. The company’s management should establish a series of key indicators that are considered critical for improvement (e.g. lead time, stocks, unit cost, etc.), and then determine the abilities and opportunities that the organization has in regards to the application of 4.0 methodologies and technologies in each of its functional areas or key axes (logistics, processes, customers, etc; see illustration above).
From this more specific and detailed vision, a transformation process tuned to the needs and goals of the company can be designed, prioritising those areas of greater strategic interest, and selecting those technologies that are more useful and whose application allows the situation to improve.
It is important to note that at this point of definition of the transformation process and selection of technologies 4.0, the company must also make a decision on the technological path to follow. It can be progressive or more disruptive: Itinerary 1-2 (technological update), Itinerary 2-3 (technology adoption) or Itinerary 1-3 (accelerated transformation). In any case, the three itineraries cover all possible transformations, including those of companies with a low or almost ineffective technological level. In the latter case, they will have to undertake a more gradual process of change, incorporating, in the first place, methodologies and general technologies that allow them to improve competitiveness, and in the longer term, incorporating new technologies that allow them to keep up with the rest of the Industry.
It is also part of the Digital Innovation Hub Industrial de Galicia.