The Drive Toward Industry 4.0: Overcoming the Barriers of the IIoT
Revolutionary change doesn’t sweep through overnight. It often takes years of slow progression marked by big milestones — until one day a new norm exists. Such is the case with Industry 4.0. We’ve been inching towards it for years now — starting with automation and integrated technologies — but today barriers still exist that keep it from becoming the standard.
Understanding the obstacles
The primary issue manufacturers encounter as the industry shifts toward more revolutionary technologies isn’t singularly defined. For some, legacy processes impede the adoption; for others, it’s a matter of cost; for still more, there are wide-ranging concerns that must be surmounted. Some of the most common include:
- Security concerns — In a world of data breaches and proprietary information, security plays a heavy-handed role in slowing the adoption of Industry 4.0 and affiliated industrial internet of things (IIoT) technologies. Many manufacturers are waiting for high security standards before opening their factories up to free-flowing data.
- Cost barriers — As with any new innovation, cost of implementation runs high until the technology becomes more commonplace. Early adopters of Industry 4.0 are making substantial investments in sometimes unproven technology; others are hanging back and waiting for standardization to usher in affordability.
- Integration obstacles — Legacy processes and technologies are vital to manufacturing operations. Tampering with them or replacing them represents an extremely daunting proposal that demands proof of concept before one can make any changes. No executive is going to pull the trigger on new-age technology at the expense of proven legacy processes without the guarantee of a return on their investment.
- User education — Technologists aren’t always in strong supply. Trying to implement Industry 4.0 products and practices without them is a recipe for disaster. For the new wave of technology to come to fruition, it needs a workforce that intimately understands it.
- Skilled experts — Having staff to get Industry 4.0 up and running is different from having skilled experts to interpret and utilize the data it provides. Many manufacturers lack personnel who understand how to leverage industry data appropriately, making it hard to fully reap the implementation’s return on investment.
- Definition problems — Not understanding how to leverage Industry 4.0 data is one of the chief obstacles in widespread adoption. As manufacturers learn more about its driving concepts and implementation, its benefits will continue to make themselves apparent. It’s only when these benefits lead to proven returns that manufacturers will begin to look at specific applications in their own environment.
Specific barriers against the adoption of IIoT technologies exist for every manufacturer. It’s up to each company to recognize these obstacles to understand the steps they need to take to overcome them.
Breaking down the barriers
Rather than going all-in on IIoT adoption and barreling into Industry 4.0 with a head full of steam, wise manufacturers are breaking down the barriers to full-scale implementation one by one. Learning about the technology, identifying leaders in the field, hiring knowledgeable personnel, and observing case studies are all integral first steps to adoption.
Change may be slow to come, but there’s little doubt in the shift toward the IIoT and Industry 4.0. Through incremental changes and subtle shifts, the manufacturing industry is slowly finding its footing in the new digital age of insights. For early adopters and those still to make the transition, the benefits could be numerous.
Where’s your factory on the timeline to Industry 4.0 adoption? If you’re not quite there yet, but still want the benefit of new-gen technologies, consult with Global Electronic Services about our high-tech approach to maintenance. Contact us for all your industrial electronic, servo motor, AC and DC motor, hydraulic, and pneumatic needs — and don’t forget to like and follow us on Facebook!