As part of the 2018 edition of the North American Manufacturing Excellence Summit, Atul Mahamuni, Oracle’s VP, Internet of Things and Blockchain Cloud Applications, gave an in-depth interview on how manufacturers are embracing Industry 4.0 solutions with specific examples and lessons learned to illustrate what all successful rollouts of these new tools have in common.
The full transcript of the interview is below, or you can download a PDF version.
What is the real competitive advantage of the Industrial Internet of Things for the early adaptors, the companies that are well-launched into their journey?
First of all, the benefits of Industry 4.0 are all about productivity gains, about understanding our processes, about achieving our productivity goals through the reduction of unpredictability. Reducing things like unplanned downtime and increasing continuous production.
I would also say people have been talking about Industry 4.0 for a while now, so I think your question could also be, “Why are there so few companies that have successfully done something?”
I think that speaks to a void in the market that is impacting early adaptors.
Most vendors today are offering IIoT platforms, and there is a gap between the platform and what you need to build on top of an IIoT platform before you see a solution that delivers results. Early adaptors have had to take the risk of investing in a platform and building their solutions on top of it, and that’s what the early adaptors have done that their competition has not done.
What we try to do at Oracle is reduce that risk. It shouldn’t take a lot of time and money to create a custom solution. We believe it’s our job in the vendor community to create applications and solutions that our customers can deploy very quickly so they can see the ROI very quickly.
In a lot of conversations when we talk about new tools, new processes, at the end of the day it really comes down to people. Tell us a little bit about the people part of how manufactures are moving into Industry 4.0.
You cannot talk about moving into Industry 4.0 without talking about the people involved in that journey. There are two things that happen as we bring in new tools. We have people in the workforce doing the mundane job of data collection, and we also have people spending time on mid-level data analysis and operations research. Those things do not need to be done manually in an IIoT environment anymore with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and that can lead to a little bit of resistance because we are changing the way people spend their time.
With that said, that initial friction quickly disappears, because we are actually helping people do their jobs better. Taking those boring jobs out of their hands and doing those better through automation very quickly demonstrates its value to the workforce: It helps them avoid the costly, stressful breakdowns that lead to high-stress environments that are created when a machine failure takes a production line offline.
Can you give us an example of what you are talking about?
We are working with a steel manufacturer right now. Their problem is they are building large steel sheets, and they explained to us that when something goes wrong in their manufacturing process, the sheets will jam in the machinery exactly the same way pages jam inside a printer, except imagine it is happening to a very large sheet of steel, right?
It is a major breakdown of productivity for them. They have to shut the whole line down, take heavy machinery apart, get the jammed steel out, and sometimes those sheets end up as scrap. It is a real mess, and this sort of thing impacts everyone.
With Industry 4.0 solutions, we are spotting the problems in the equipment and the processes earlier and more accurately than was possible before. We are able to anticipate where and when a breakdown will happen so the steel sheets can be corrected before the unplanned downtime. It really is benefiting people in the long-term, so once you get past that initial friction, that hesitation that their job is changing, they become very happy to see how the new tools are helping them to do their jobs better.
That’s when the culture starts changing.