Industry 4.0 is a project of the future of the German government's high-tech strategy, which aims to advance the penetration of information technology in conventional industrial manufacturing.
The strategic goal is to achieve the smart factory, which is characterized by its adaptability, resource efficiency and ergonomics, as well as the integration of customers, employees and business partners in business and value creation processes. The Internet of Things is one of the technological foundations for the smart factory.
The digital economy is different
The industry of today is optimized for manufacturing tangible products for the global market and improving them continuously. The digital networked economy, however, is different – faster, more chaotic, more unpredictable. And much closer to the customer than the "old economy" has been able to get.
Don't miss the revolution
German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent out a clear message in this respect at this year's Hannover Messe, the world's most important industry trade show. Europe, said the Chancellor in her keynote speech, must not miss the fourth industrial revolution. Not only do German businesses have to hurry, they also have to innovate more. Because 90 percent of global economic growth now takes place outside of the EU. Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Höttges spoke in even more dire terms. He warned publicly of a "digital debacle" if Europe failed to promote the networking of business. The consequence: instead of Industry 4.0, continental business could be facing Industry 0.0.
Create new customer experiences
To keep up the pace, entire industries have to transform their IT. Products and services from different industries are increasingly being combined within digital ecosystems to form partner networks that combine the best of their worlds. Arrival Control is one example: To assure the recipients of crucial components that their orders will arrive at the required time, this business app by Deutsche Telekom links the manufacturer, the delivery service, the transport insurance company (if relevant), and the parcel itself with the customer.
Machines can tweet, too
It's only logical that social media is making conventional industry processes smarter. Take Twitter, for example: Schildknecht AG, a southern German specialist in industrial electronics, uses Twitter to let machines communicate with people, making both sides smarter. Whether single devices or complete production lines – the people responsible for operating the machines are active followers of a closed or open user group, which can follow and manage the tweets on a smartphone, tablet PC, or desktop computer. If a machine reports a product error or a malfunction warning, the communication can be bi-directional: The user can send a tweet back to the machine, for example, to reset the error. Implementing such solutions on a large scale requires reliable, secure networking from end to end.
The next technological revolution
For Reinhard Clemens, "the impetus that is driving the next technological revolution, the radical transformation of industry around the world, is coming mainly from the IT industry. Both the creation of products and their value creation chains are being completely reorganized and controlled through networking between end customers and production and from one machine to another." The CEO at T-Systems represents the Deutsche Telekom Group as a board member on the German government's Industry 4.0 project of the future.
A new security mentality
But when chips and sensors become the sensory organs for the Internet of things, and allow entire factories to communicate, the question arises: "Who else is listening?" In the wake of Industry 4.0, it is not just files and data that have to be protected; entire software-driven process chains will need it as well. Especially in light of the fact that security gaps can undermine confidence in the digital revolution, says Clemens.
Europe's opportunity lies in pro-actively linking the topics of digitization and security from the very beginning, thus setting itself apart from the global competition. "It's a subject that has to be dealt with at board level," demands Clemens, who is a member of Deutsche Telekom's Board of Management and CEO of T-Systems. "Cyber-security, privacy and data security have to become integral parts of a company risk management. In future, rating agencies will examine these aspects carefully when they assess the credit worthiness of companies."