A blog on the HP site by Christian Verstraete offers yet another opinion on Industry 4.0. However, he never really talks about Industry 4.0. Instead, he discusses the Internet of Things. Even though this is not “mainstream media,” it is still an example of sloppy thinking.

Beware of Industry 4.0 Misinformation

Verstraete first off confuses two terms. He never really touches on what Industry 4.0 is–including digital manufacturing, cyber physical systems, or, indeed, manufacturing. While making a couple of aside comments about manufacturing, he really only talks about the consumer side of the equation.

He links it directly to the Internet of Things–catering specifically to the usage of the internet of things in industries.

“Let’s start with the fact that companies increasingly cooperate in product development, across their supply chain and in their maintenance operations. Then, let’s look at where the Internet of Things can actually help enterprises deliver better products, cheaper and faster while maintaining or improving quality levels and services.”

He continues, “So, collecting market research as well as user data and then making it available to the developers would really help them defining the next generation product. But given market concerns about privacy, your data collection approach should be thought through very carefully.”

From a manufacturing point of view, this is one of the two promises of machine-to-machine (M2M) theory. An OEM, for example, could monitor its machine in the customer’s plant for both providing maintenance service and for collecting data on machine performance and component performance for the purpose of improving its product.

“An Industry 4.0 example would then be that you, as part of the product development process, desire user data, but you are not interested in the individual. You will need to demonstrate to customers that the information gathered is anonymous and there is no way for anybody receiving the information, legally or illegally to trace it back to the end-user.”

He misses an opportunity to inform his readers about the “industry” in Industry 4.0. Here he once again uses consumer point of view:

He then progresses to “maintenance operations.” I’m not sure if he is confusing maintenance and operations or simply referring to maintenance. But he misses a great opportunity to discuss the value of predictive maintenance or condition-based maintenance.

“Whether we talk about maintenance operations within the production environment or services to maintain equipment at the customer site, the problem remains the same. When is an intervention required? Typically we have two approaches. Either regular preventive maintenance (for example yearly) or maintenance triggered by usage (typical in the car industry), it always happens before the fact and does not take into account the actual status of the equipment.”

Let’s all press people to define terms and resist just mixing up all the terms and then running with a half-baked idea. There is the Internet of Things. There is Industry 4.0 (of which you have probably heard much). There is Smart Manufacturing (of which you have probably only heard of here–and you most likely won’t any longer because I have been removed from the formation group).

As the technologies evolve and engineers begin to implement, manufacturing efficiency and profitability should be experiencing a step change improvement.

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