The processes that lead to the development of a company according to the 4.0 paradigm must be designed considering both the strengths and weaknesses of the individual company.
There is no single recipe, a single technology that allows all companies to obtain the aforementioned advantages. For this reason, company analysis and exploration of available technologies are required before deciding which systems to adopt.
The macro activities necessary to design a 4.0 ecosystem are the following:
- internal audit;
- improvement plan;
- adoption of technologies that are suitable for the context;
- performance measurement and analysis
In the first step, an audit is performed so as to analyse the initial situation, the technologies the company already uses, the technologies that are missing and which are necessary to start the journey towards the 4.0 factory. To better explain this first step; companies can benefit from the experience of external parties who have a vast knowledge of technologies and their applications, from technological agents who are able to identify the most appropriate investments to make and who can also clearly identify costs and benefits. In this way, the company will be able to choose the processes to tackle based on what is detected or measured as opposed to following trends or chasing competitors.
Subsequently, on the basis of the initial situation, the detour from the current situation is assessed and plans for improvement are drawn up. This is then accompanied by an economic and financial analysis that is aimed at quantifying both the amount of the investment and any sources of financing.
It is only at that point, if the management decides to make the investment, will it then move on to adoption and implementation, along with the carrying out of the measurement and analysis of performance.
The framework is cyclical as often companies, especially if they are small-medium sized, find it may be preferable to implement new technologies in successive steps so as not to expose themselves to too high risks and in order to verify the effectiveness of an intervention before resorting to the next.
EVOLUTION AND COMBINATION OF TECHNOLOGIES IN PRODUCTION
The typical solutions adopted in a project that is oriented towards “Industry 4.0” are not absolutely new in the field of production systems. Industry 4.0 is not based on new technologies, but rather on their evolving combination. In particular, some technologies have even evolved to the point of allowing the development of interesting applications that were previously not feasible.