Your Rexroth electric motion control is hanging out in a corner, possibly in a locked cabinet, and we know from talking with our clients that plenty of you haven’t even looked at that servo or drive in decades. You’d think collaboration would be the last thing on the minds of the people who make them.
In fact, Rexroth does a lot of innovative work with diverse teams of human beings. And it’s not just Rexroth that recognizes the importance of collaboration to Industry 4.0 “The success of Industrie 4.0, from the factory floor to the board room, requires cooperation at a national, regional, and global level,” Forbes announced firmly earlier this year. In fact, Garnter has defined Industry 4.0 as “a business-outcome-driven digital transformation approach to generate value from the collaboration of multiple partners in ecosystems across value chains and industries.”
Those of us who are looking at Industry 4.0 from the factory floor may have trouble seeing it that way… but it may be time for us to change our perspective. Upinder Zutshi says, “Industry 4.0 thrives in a connected environment, one where people, data, processes, systems, and capital assets can converge to create cyber-physical systems, and propel IoT.”
Smart devices are smart because of communication among machines and people. There is a sense in which the machines themselves are collaborating, learning, and sharing. But that’s largely metaphorical. The ones who must collaborate, learn, share, and program the machinery to simulate those actions are the human beings.
Companies in collaboration
Strategic partnerships can be great for businesses. But we’re seeing additional collaboration as manufacturers and upstream and downstream partners work together to achieve compliance with safety and environmental regulations. Collaboration is making it possible to shorten the supply chain and provide the level of customization today’s consumers demand. Rexroth’s Open Core Engineering interface allows new heights of collaboration on engineering projects.
In every case, there’s a digital component that multiplies and expands opportunities to collaborate.
The fear that machinery and automation would make people into automata is disappearing with the realization that automation is actually allowing stronger, safer, more productive collaboration.