Rexroth is unquestionably a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the international move toward Industry 4.0. But thought leader Wolfgang Blome, while he acknowledges that Rexroth’s Industry 4.0 production line in Homburg is a perfect proof of concept that demonstrates that Industry 4.0 technology is already here, still describes Industry 4.0 as a goal rather than a reality.
“You can’t use it,” Blome says, “if you’re just talking about it.”
Drive & Control magazine spoke with Blome, who said that there will have to be business plans designed specifically to take advantage of these new technologies before they can make real changes. “Industry 4.0 will be able to make a basic change in the course of the entire production chain if businesses merge the three technology worlds – corporate IT, consumer IT and embedded IT – into a single platform.”
He points out that iPhones would never have become the game-changers they were and are without iTunes. Manufacturers must embrace the ideas behind Industry 4.0. Just having the hardware available is not enough.
Blome identifies some specific ways in which manufacturers will have to change their approach to their businesses. They’ll have to accept the use of higher-level standardized computer languages, for one thing, and they’ll have to be willing to use the cloud rather than keeping all their software on-premise.
Security concerns are currently making these changes challenging for many companies.
And yet it is the larger manufacturers, such as auto companies, which are in a position to make the needed investments to bring Industry 4.0 to life. Smaller companies will have greater agility and be able to move more quickly, but they will also be limited by economics. Blome points out that smaller enterprises have to watch production costs so closely that it’s difficult for them to make the needed investments.
Once Industry 4.0 is established, Blome says, then startups with innovative business models will benefit.
Using legacy machinery while you wait for the right moment to arrive? We specialize in Rexroth’s Indramat and Indradrive technologies, and we can keep yours running till you’re ready for the next step.