Industry 4.0 cannot and must not be reduced to a simple question of economics. Rather, it is the transformation of Italian industry in Europe; the re-engineering of the manufacturing process, the re-thinking of the relationship between product and service. Bureau Veritas showcases its range of tools supporting companies towards 4.0 digitalization.
by Silvia Crespi
On May 15th, Bureau Veritas Italy, in partnership with FEDERTEC and GISI, organized a very interesting conference on digital 4.0, explaining how the certified company’s tools can aid firms in their transition to Industry 4.0.
The number and variety of speakers, from Bureau Veritas Italy experts, to academics
to external partners is testament to
the complexity of the subjects under discussion.
Whether you are referring to Industry 4.0, Enterprise 4.0, digitalization 4.0 or, more simply, 4.0, this is an opportunity Italian companies cannot afford to miss if they wish to stay market competitive.
Not only innovative technology, a change of mind set
What is the journey toward the Smart Factory? Are Italian companies making efficient, and above all, correct steps down the pathway to digitalization?
According to the speakers present, this is not always the case. Technological investment intending to transform production processes are not the be all and end all of the question. What is really required is the acquisition of a new mentality able to change company structure.
To get to grips with digital maturity and the right mix of enabling technology, organization and 4.0 skills, Andrea Donato, Innovation Manager 4.0 at Bureau Veritas Italy took to the floor.
“Digital 4.0 is a complex subject – he began – it is wise to search out a simpler approach, otherwise it can often be very difficult for companies to find the right solution for them. There can be overlapping of technology levels, a great generator of confusion. What should be done with which tools? What are the risks I am facing and what are the benefits to be gained? These are frequent questions, simple and clear, that firms regularly ask themselves”.
Donato believes it is correct to think about the very concept of industrial revolution. Is it really happening again? Or was it simply something decided on around a high powered board room meeting somewhere? “What is for sure – he confirmed – is that today, it has not brought about the hoped for results in terms of company rebirth but above all, it hasn’t changed the mind set and behaviour of companies. It is not technology that will make Industry 4.0, rather, it is the convergence, the deep rooted integration in a complex but clear structure that it will engender. Technology is only a means to company culture evolution towards a new, but necessary, business model”.
In Italy, says Donato, we are very much still in a period of transition; companies tend to stay in a kind of “technological comfort zone” and the gap between those companies who only think in a cost based framework and those who strive for genuine innovation continues to grow day by day. Investment will have strategic value only where not viewed under a purely mechanical, technological perspective but as a holistic company transformation. The process of renewal must begin from the top, from company governance.
Speaking of which, facing up to the problem of entrepreneurial culture in Italy has become an unwanted must. Managers (commercial or financial) must have a synergical relationship with engineers, working together to make the necessary steps toward change, with a shared vision, a reality. It is hoped that improvements in management culture will go hand in hand with that of their collaborators in order that essential 4.0 skills are acquired, through continuous training, for example, thus, keeping their companies cutting edge on the market.
Should there be doubts about benefits obtained through digital technology, the results of companies who have firmly believed in this transition are there for all to see: savings of 10 to 20% on production costs; a 30-40% reduction in logistics costs; 20-40 % made up in fixed overheads (quality control., maintenance, down time, logistics, technical assistance etc.).
How and why measure a company’s digital maturity
Once the full potential of innovation has been recognised, the next step is to set up the transformation to digital. Here, it is fundamental to “check” the business areas affected by this change. Bureau Veritas has developed its own methodology that follows the various stages of the process in its technological areas, organization, operation and supervision. Starting with analysis of the pre-requisites, followed by organizational analysis, to finish with digital requirement analysis.
Rounding off with the words of Donato: “Industry 4.0 is not a mere economic lever: it is the transformation of Italian industry in Europe; it is re-engineering the production process; a complete re-thinking of the relationship between product and service”.
The role of IoT technologies in industrial plants
As previously mentioned, the academic world was also in attendance at the event: Guido Jacopo Luca Micheli, professor at the Politecnico university in Milan illustrated, with the support of Guido Sala, innovation process expert at Bureau Veritas Italy, the key role IoT technologies play in industrial plant management.
IoT is all about product, but, in other words, we can call this a client led phenomenon. The goal being to enable strategic objectives creating genuinely radical innovation, meaning differentiation from competition.
IoT is the answer to such questions, through the use of specialized tools: but am I sufficiently connected? Do I have the right protection, am I enabling efficiency? Am I innovating?
For the IoT project to be a success, it is fundamental to clearly identify goals, value processes and tools. There are no ready made solutions, each project must be individually studied, depending on the sector, flow complexity, application conditions and, above all, strategic aims.
Case studies across a variety of industrial sectors were presented to back up these arguments.
How to best analyze the huge data quantity available?
Simone Masi and Andrea Barbieri of Plan Soft, Bureau Veritas partner, looked into the problem of analyzing the large quantity of data produced in the digital workplace and which instruments are best suited to an efficient analytical process.
According to the Gartner definition, the term Big Data concerns data collection which is so vast in its volume, speed and variety that it requires new methodologies to be in place to then get to decision making, in depth evaluation and process optimization from it. Once again, a shift in concepts is necessary to go beyond the traditional approach.
Machine Learning is one such solution, as algo-rithms pass learning skills onto computers without having been programmed to do so. The new frontier of ML will be deep learning, multi layer neuronal network analysis which can, however, be passed on by the power of calculation currently available to us.
Economic incentives for firms
Valentina Mussi and Alessandro Ferrari, respectively Industry 4.0 Development Specialist and Industry 4.0 Product Manager, spoke about economic incentives and what has changed concerning trade in deals, tax credits and so on. Bureau Veritas helps companies in understanding what their strategic objectives are and therefore, which areas to focus their investment in. This is carried out through evaluation of the technology a company currently uses (adequacy of ICT systems, hardware, software etc.), operative condition (management skills and process execution), organization (organizational structure), and supervision (process monitoring and control).
The certification process will begin with the preliminary audit, in other words, understanding client needs working through to the final conformity certificate. Tax credits can be sourced having organized a 4.0 base training programme. Please check official documentation for further information on these questions.