Understanding industry 4.0 – Q&A with Dr. Karsten Königstein

industry 4.0

 

5 MINUTE READ

 

The digitisation of manufacturing is transforming the way we produce products. This shift has so much potential it is now commonly dubbed “Industry 4.0” – representing the fourth revolution in manufacturing.  

 

From the first industrial revolution (mechanisation through steam power) to the mass production and assembly lines using electricity in the second, the fourth industrial revolution will take what was started in the third with the adoption of computers and automation, and enhance it with smart and autonomous systems fuelled by data and machine learning.

 

The Internet of Things and the Internet of Systems make Industry 4.0 possible and the smart factory a reality. As a result of the support of smart machines that keep getting smarter as they get access to more data, our factories will become more efficient and productive and less wasteful. Ultimately, it’s the network of these machines that are digitally connected with one another and create and share information that results in the true power of Industry 4.0.

 

Dr. Karsten Königstein is founder and Managing Director of Sinfosy, a smart manufacturing and logistics company. His goal is to make all the benefits of Industry 4.0 readily accessible to all companies, regardless of size. With straightforward, ready-to-use solutions Sinfosy enables businesses to begin optimising their operational processes in minutes.

 

We caught up with Karsten to explore the benefits of Industry 4.0 and how organisations can harness its power.

 

What does Industry 4.0 mean to you?

 

Industry 4.0 means optimising processes with the help of data.

 

New business models mean it’s no longer necessary to make upfront investments in high-priced IT-projects. Today, companies can rent digital solutions that will help increase the efficiency of their processes.

 

Why do they need it? The answer is simple: competition increases rapidly year over year. And the competitiveness of production costs are a key determinant of whether a company fails or succeeds. To keep up, companies are forced either to invest in new machines, manufacturing equipment, and IT-Projects or find digital solutions which could help them to optimise and scale.

 

The machines on many shop floors are becoming outdated; not all have sensors to check data properly; shop floors and storehouses themselves are lacking easy-find solutions and transparency in daily data monitoring. And the communication processes between them are neither transparent nor truly measurable.  The winners here could be those companies that figure out a way to implement new digital technologies without big investments into building their own smart systems.

 

For me personally, Industry 4.0 represents a growth driver and an opportunity to develop our digital solutions further. Forecasts suggest that the Industry 4.0 market will reach approximately USD 155.30 billion by 2024. This may sound unbelievable, but as always, “demand breeds supply”. And the demand for cheap and simple ‘Plug & Play’ solutions is currently exploding. In 2018 more than 55% of production companies in Germany implemented Industry 4.0 as a strategy for the next few years.

 

How will Industry 4.0 transform a company’s organisation and structure?

 

It will drive change across many areas:

  • It will give increased transparency to the management
  • It will involve all employees into one process
  • It will inform employees in light speed
  • It motivates employees as they gain more visibility as well
  • It will keep non-relevant information away from employees
  • It will increase machine efficiency
  • Save resources and optimise the workflow

 

Are there inherent risks companies should be aware of?

 

Yes, often there are risks associated with project-based solutions. It’s very difficult to predict what the outcome will be. This is different with Plug&Play solutions. They are tried and tested and the customer knows in advance exactly the kind of functionality they can expect. The time to production is in the range of days instead of months or years with tailored in-house solutions.

 

How did you come up with the idea to found Sinfosy and how does it fit into this new landscape?

 

With over ten years of production and logistics consulting experience at shop floor level, and my background as an founder of several IT startups it seemed like a logical combination. After my last company was sold to Bosch, I was responsible for Business Development, Pre-Sales and sales for Bosch’s IoT applications. Once I finished my time in that role I decided to build another startup.

 

I knew companies are always seeking risk free operational solutions that don’t require huge capital expenditure. This is how Sinfosy was born. Our solutions today are guided by the principles of going live in hours, risk free Plug&Play, and delivering everything including hardware so there is no hassle on customer side.

 

What are your predictions for how manufacturing will look in 2030?

 

A long-term vision – productions will be connected – even beyond company borders. There will be production networks within regions where companies share their machines and to optimise utilisation  – with autonomous transport supporting these processes.

 

Unlike others, I do not believe production environments will be free of human beings. I think they will have to do different or enhanced tasks. Elon Musk proved it. Automating everything leads to 20% increase in overall equipment effectiveness.

 

The global development of Industry 4.0 will lead to production of higher quality goods at lower costs while at the same time generating less waste, and energy consumption.