Realize Industrie 4.0
Source: LOGISTIK HEUTE “Software in der Logistik 2016”
The goal of Industrie 4.0 is to improve competitive ability – for example, by shortening reaction times and enabling flexible and efficient production of variant-rich and customer-specific products. Here, to become an Industrie 4.0 company means achieving the strategic goals specified with the right means. A lot of work on value-creation is required for this – work that pays off.
If you examine Industrie 4.0 flagship projects, four areas emerge that companies must address:
Within these areas, a degree of sophistication must be achieved in order to be able to take additional steps toward automation, networking, and IT penetration — which then make economic sense. The central prerequisite for process control down to decentralized and automatic processes is complete, correct, and up-to-date master data. All information for the description of products and production processes must be stored, the value-creation chain mapped completely. Missing or incorrect details, for example about process times, may be obvious to an experienced employee, but an automated planning step might stumble over these.
Visualizing in real time
Real time-capable software must ensure transparency and timeliness, for each participant at the company should see a company-wide planning picture, which applies from order receipt, design, and procurement, on through to the after-sales department. This planning picture is updated in real time. Decisions about the flow of goods and production control can then be made on the basis of real-time simulations. With this company-wide transparency about the current situation, the future effects of individual resource assignments become clearer. This aspect appears to contradict the use of decentralized intelligence, however when discussing the topic Industrie 4.0, sometimes it is difficult not to confuse the instruments with the goal. Industrie 4.0 is supposed to advance companies with respect to flexibility, variety of variants, and mass production of individual products. The increasing complexity of processes will make extensive supply chain planning even more important – precisely in order to enable self-controlling processes without losing sight of overall entrepreneurial optimization. With real-time APS software, the planning picture can be visualized and the simulation of alternative actions enabled.
The individual unique piece from mass production – this apparent contradiction is paradigmatic for Industrie 4.0 and the expression of maximum customer orientation. For producers of consumer goods and capital equipment, flexibility can be a decisive competitive factor. However, even if there is a product at the end of assembly that is a batch size 1, it will only make sense in rare cases to implement this across all pre-stages. Anyone who wants to achieve a great degree of flexibility must adjust his product structures accordingly. Simple toolbox system and intelligently combined build-to-stock/build-to-order concepts are necessary in order to be able to manufacture variant-rich and individual end products profitably. A carefully considered product structure is the actual basis for products that control their own production. Customer-specific products delivered quickly – Industrie 4.0 should make this possible. Increased flexibility and the shortening of throughput times are nothing other than classic tasks of supply chain optimization. Here the concern is organizational prerequisites. The organization of an Industrie 4.0 company should be built with an eye to process orientation along the entire value-creation chain – with clearly-defined interfaces and responsibilities between those units that are responsible for individual sections of the value-creation chain. In practice, it becomes clear that lean management is the ideal springboard for enhancement on the path to Industrie 4.0.
Secured need preview
With the reworked master data and product classifications, it will become possible to form platforms that can finally overcome the “anonymous” ERP/site limitations. Individual materials would then no longer just be familiar because you have their clear identification (material number) from a particular ERP system, but also if appropriate master data/classifications are communicated on the platform. From this, it is possible to map a broader need situation for entire supply chain networks and configure this situation dynamically. All participants can profit from a continuous, better-secured need preview than what is available today. With entry into such a dynamic market situation, a participating company should be well set up in all of the areas named and not just have mastered the entry hurdle of continuous product classification. Anyone who takes on the challenge Industrie 4.0 by simplifying the structure of its products and mapping this appropriately in master data, making his organization slim and process-oriented, and setting up real-time IT support for his order planning has gained a lot – completely independently of the technical finesse of the automation and networking that he introduces.