The White Paper “Industrial Software 4.0” produced by ANIE Automazione’s Industrial Software Working Group is an instrument to spread the knowledge of opportunities provided by Industry 4.0’s enabling technologies.
by WG Software Industriale di ANIE Automazione
Industrial software today is decidedly crucial in its role as the enabling factor of the fourth industrial revolution. The creation within ANIE Automazione – the association which represents the reference point in Italy for companies supplying technologies for factory, process and network automation – of a working group which could deal specifically with this theme, so as to help associates and companies in their reference markets to understand better the technology, the ways of using it and the advantages it provides, was therefore entirely natural and necessary. Last year the global market of industrial software reached the approximate value of 400 billion dollars according to a Lucintel estimate. The software budget in the global expense of companies and industries on the IT market in 2017 (Gartner) recorded investments up to 357 billion dollars. The central role of industrial software, and its positioning as a management and binding layer between the ICT world linked to business processes and the world of companies’ operating processes, determines that the reference players of this segment relate to both worlds. This is why, in order to ensure a real representativeness of the group, it was decided to broaden participation even to the main players of the ICT world so that they might provide the correct input of specific knowledge and competence.
The Group is working, alongside some important Italian universities, to define models to calculate ROI with reference to specific application areas, besides activating all the necessary initiatives to support companies, especially small and medium Italian enterprises, to understand and use ROI accelerators (legal incentives) currently available. It also prepared the White Paper “Industrial Software 4.0” aimed at promoting and supporting the cultural growth of companies regarding 4.0 themes and the role of industrial software in this context.
A useful support in the digitization process
The document, which contains elements of considerable interest as regards the new models of digital business and the advantages and opportunities deriving from investments in a digitization process which converges on the Industry 4.0 paradigm, shows the passage to a new way of making business, no longer based only on products. The increasingly intense use of social networking services, chats and e-commerce changed the consumer world and shifted the playing field to the virtual world: information therefore becomes the focus around which choices are coordinated. In such a scenario, in order to be competitive, it becomes of the utmost importance to be fast in launching new, highly customized products at competitive prices, while guaranteeing high quality standards and providing experiences to match clients’ expectations.
Industrial software as a fundamental element for companies’ operations
Over the years, software for industrial automation, both when used in strictly productive environments and in civil applications, has become a critical factor for the functioning of companies. Today information systems are the engine of the evolution of manufacturing, and the concept of smart and digitized factory summarizes such a role. The IT/OT connection, Big Data, Analytics, just as the concept of virtualization, validation, simulation, prototyping, artificial intelligence etc. are all characterizing and essential elements to best implement digital transformation in industry and in other sectors. The investment in IT infrastructures increasingly proves to be one of the main leverages to guarantee the efficiency and efficacy necessary for the survival of manufacturing industries.
In order to seize opportunities deriving from the fourth industrial revolution, companies must follow a pathway towards digitization based on new processes and enabling technologies allowing to respond to ongoing changes. The finishing line is represented by the implementation of a modern supply chain process capable of enabling the organization to respond to the most rapid changes of the market and guaranteeing advantages both in terms of costs and of revenues.
If we analyze the opportunity from a broader standpoint, we may see that today’s manufacturing company may be affected by a digital transformation process which does not just stop at factory level, but involves the research and development, sales and after-sales departments. All of this requires a more versatile method of optimizing processes and sharing data.
A viable change model for a machine tool manufacturer
Figure 2 represents the new interactions and change of processes in a company specializing in the production of machine tools, where:
• the research and development department revamps the machine tool enabling it to carry out remote monitoring and predictive maintenance and making the data available both for the end users, who will use this machine in their factories, and for the after-sales department;
• to manufacture the innovative machine, the “Industry 4.0” initiative is exploited, where the customizations carried out do not affect costs considerably with respect to the increase in advantages perceived by the end user;
• the innovative machine, having been produced and installed at the end user’s plant, will not only be monitored and enabled to drastically reduce machine downtimes due to wrong maintenance activities, but will also contribute to the improvement of future models providing information to the research, development and design department.
This is a virtuous circle, which may only be obtained by means of a digital transformation shared between Smart Product manufacturers and clients with Smart Manufacturing products.
It is an example of step-by-step innovation which may now be adopted easily, at reasonable costs and supported by many State programs.
The advantages for small and medium size companies
Besides, SMEs, which in Italy have always ensured innovation and widespread growth, may derive the greatest advantages from Industry 4.0, since this paradigm fits in well with the agility of these concerns, providing a decisive contribution for the increase in the quality of products and the optimization of design, production and logistics, leading to a greater competitiveness within and outside the nation’s boundaries. Industry 4.0, therefore, is not a world which deserves to be approached only because tax benefits are available, but an actual opportunity to improve and reposition manufacturing companies.
There are numerous advantages to be derived from a digitization process where the industrial software component is the enabling layer. Among these advantages, the most relevant ones are: reduction of time-to-market, of maintenance and storage costs and of downtimes, and on the other hand, increase in productivity and corporate efficiency.
The White Paper defines industrial software as the enabling layer for the implementation of the digital transformation of companies. The problem is that not everyone agrees as to what the term “industrial software” implies. ANIE’s Working Group defined a focus perimeter so as to create a context for the activity of the group itself. The orientation was towards identifying the vertical application areas (Table 2) and not the technologies, so as to include all software proposals, irrespective of the technological base used. Transversal themes concerning areas such as Security and Infrastructure have also been identified.