Industry 4.0, or the industrial internet — a hot topic in the truest sense of the word. The World Economic Forum launched an initiative on it at its yearly meeting in Davos, Switzerland in 2014, and the initial results of the research project have now come in.
Together with consultancy Accenture, the Economic Forum presented a paper entitled “The Industrial Internet of Things: Unleashing the Potential of Connected Products and Services.” According to its authors, the potentials and the transformative power of Industry 4.0 cannot be overstated. There’s also a danger that enterprises that underestimate the importance of the internet of things can easily “miss the bus” — with serious competitive disadvantages.
High data volumes arising during production and the inter-networking of products, as well as decisions becoming more automated generate entirely new opportunities in terms of value creation. In addition, companies are increasingly able to respond to events in real time. All these tools, which Industry 4.0 makes available have the effect of making operative processes much more efficient. Today, businesses already practice predictive maintenance, which allows many unplanned stoppages to be avoided, and so lowers costs. The World Economic Forum lists some figures: Savings on planned repairs are about 12%, maintenance costs fall by almost 30%, and unplanned stoppages drop by 70%.
The study’s authors see a change in the direction of a results-oriented economy that is “fed” by software-based services. For this reason, software platforms that exchange data through various “actors” and that communicate with one another play an important role in Industry 4.0. In general, entirely new forms of collaboration between companies will develop in order to strengthen products by adding services to them. Industry in Germany has recognized this fact some time now – for example, Siemens has set up a $100 million Industry of the Future Fund to promote Startups, which will use their ideas to contribute to help transform manufacturing.
IT enterprises that enable Industry 4.0 projects are being called on to agree standards to ensure the greatest possible interoperability. For this reason, Blue Yonder exclusively uses the Python programming language, and its data scientists can access more than 100 pre-programmed algorithms to create forecasts. This set of “building blocks” can then be used to solve a number of forecasting problems. Ad hoc realization of concrete forecasting ideas requires software that is flexible – which Blue Yonder's platform as-a-service is. Customers can access it 24-hours a day, seven days a week and without having to commit their own hardware resources.