Economia organized a conference in Prague in June dedicated to Industry 4.0 and trends in automated production based on digitization, robotics and smart factories. Significant personalities from corporate practice introduced smart solutions that are already changing production and companies themselves. We could not miss this event as well.
The share of industry in the Czech Republic fluctuates around 40 percent of GDP, which is why constant innovation is key to maintain competitiveness, breath and pace. It is precisely the concept of Industry 4.0 that is first and foremost, as well as the integration of processes and information.
A New Challenge
For companies, the current industrial revolution means increasing efficiency, including labour cost optimization, the ability to expand product ranges and their variability (even in the context of personalizing customers’ individual wishes) and minimizing human errors. Automation is also a way of overcoming the current pressing shortage of skilled workers in the labour market.
It is an “existential challenge for the whole economy,” as Robert Monsberger, a member of the board of directors of Asseco Solutions AG, told the conference alongside both process digitization and whole business models. What are the keywords? According to him, cloud, mobility, the Internet of Things and big data.
Virtual Modelling and Digital Twins
In terms of efficiency gains, we are interested in the possibilities of collecting, analysing and sharing digital information and virtual product modelling. Such digital engineering models were introduced by Alan Lamont, Vice President of Bentley Systems. This enables creating accurate digital models, storing and analysing data, and concentrating all processes and information on the entire production process and post-production processes in one place, such as product analysis during operation, preventing breakdowns or data collection for further development.
As Wolfgang Weissler, Head of Industry Business at Siemens said today, all products these days have their digital twin. And it is true across all sectors – for breweries (like the Paulaner brewery), where they use virtual simulation to produce new beer as well as for the automotive industry.
The result is increased productivity, financial savings and better use of resources, including energy. The added value of such processes also improves security and quality (including automatically controlling them) or shorter time between the design, testing, preproduction and final production phases and thus the time it takes to get the product to the end customers. There is also an increase in production with the use of advanced solutions. An example is Maserati – while they produced around 2,000 cars in 2011, they produced up to 42,000 cars in 2016.
The Customer Drives Manufacturing
Digitization of production has helped Sapeli, a door specialist, to make a major turnaround – production is now driven by the customers and their wishes. This, according to Lubomír Slabý, Financial Director at Sapeli, led to a radical reduction of inventories. Now, for the company, speed and flexibility are crucial, which are other supporting areas that are developed within the Industry 4.0 concept.