Industry 4.0 is a Lot Easier Than You Think: Dispelling 3 Digital Transformation Myths
[fa icon="calendar"] Nov 16, 2018 / by Ken Pulverman
When a software company like Parsable introduces the concept of a Connected Worker platform to help you drive your Industry 4.0 or digital transformation initiative, you may immediately think of the pain of ERP implementation and just not believe that it is possible to “go digital” so quickly and easily.
The reality is that industrial software has been pretty clunky since it was first created, and most manufacturers are still operating as they did in the 1960s with only incremental improvements since then.
Why is industrial software so unusable, especially in an era where free consumer software is ultra-easy to use?
The simple reason is that it is all about users.
Over the last 30 years, industrial companies were not heavy consumers of software. Sure, they bought ERP and PLM systems, but these were generally used by experts. The overarching philosophy for industrial software developers was that if there aren’t a ton of buyers and there aren’t many users at those companies, then you don’t need to heavily focus on “fit and finish,” which is costly and time consuming.
What would be considered beta software in the consumer world became proudly, generally released software in the industrial world.
The companies selling these solutions then closed this massive gap in usability by adding lots of training and expensive experts.
So, if you harken back to your ERP implementation, a few users got extensively trained, and you paid for some expensive experts to spend a lot of time configuring the solution.
It’s no wonder when people think about digital transformation, they think it will take a long time.
Enter the Connected Worker platform. What is just now emerging is a new class of highly useable industry software based on the paradigms that have been so successful in consumer and front-office scenarios.
In these solutions, information flows easily from worker to worker, worker to manager, and manager to company, and tedious manual data collection – including all of the associated time loss and data loss – is eliminated.
These solutions combine work process authoring with data collection, collaboration and analytics designed for the end user. By making it easy to use for lots of users, the investment in “fit and finish” has an immediate, enormous payoff – the volume of users allows software developers like Parsable to amortize an incredible up-front investment across lots of individual users.
Usability is the game changer that makes digital transformation far easier than people think.
While lots of workers will be involved in any successful digital transformation, if you break down what Industry 4.0 is – to get moving – you have to do just three things really well to change your company’s fortunes:
- People – Codify your people processes into a system that can be quickly deployed, measured and improved
- Process – Leverage the digital data from work execution and data collection to continuously measure and improve the process
- Technology – Hook up the machines to the process so they, too, can trigger work and be triggered
It really can be that straightforward. Sure, you may say, “Well that is still a lot of work.” It doesn’t have to be. There is an emerging category of software known as a Connected Worker platform that really will challenge your notion that “transformation” is hard work, expensive and takes a lot of time.
Myth #1: People. It takes a long time to codify your human processes into a new platform
Again, if you are used to a world where someone has to fly to Europe to learn a proprietary programming language to configure your software, then, of course, you think it will take a long time.
Modern Connected Worker platforms, however, allow you to leverage a simple drag-and-drop designer to create workflows quickly by laying out the steps, selecting from a wide variety of data collection fields, decide which roles will do the work, and distribute the work to teams via the web and mobile devices.
Not only does this not take a long time, the benefits are immediate as workers no longer do non-value-adding busy work like separate, manual data entry. They are now able to spend more time on higher-order activities, like how to improve their everyday work processes.
Myth #2: Process. It’s going to require major heavy-lifting to collect data and make it actionable
With a Connected Worker approach, you are rethinking how you want to collect standard data from operations and new data from work execution. As you control the collection tools, you can control how the data is collected so that you get something you can measure every time.
This means solution vendors can provide common charts and graphs out of the box. Additionally, data that is uniformly collected then becomes easy to build dashboards from. By eliminating paper data collection and consolidating data collection overall with a Connected Worker platform, you actually simplify what it takes to create dashboards and can leverage a platform like this to create new dashboards.
Myth #3: Technology. It will be hard to connect machines and people
This a common myth out there that sells a lot of sensors and a lot of new machines, and powers the concept of automation.
The reality is that most machines sold in the last several years already have the ability to connect to Intranets and Internets. They issue and read a wide variety of codes – like start, stop, pause, out of supplies, jammed, etc. – and translating these codes to humans and vice versa has been solved.
Widely available gateways can translate data from a huge variety of machine codes to something a Connected Worker platform can read. If intervention or maintenance is needed, a human process can be triggered. Once a human process is completed, machines can be programmatically restarted after appropriate safety procedures are followed.
Truly embodying Industry 4.0 with humans and machines working seamlessly together is easier than people think, at least to get started.
Words like “transformation” are emotive. They generally mean something huge that is going to take a long time and a lot of effort. The world has made going digital seem hard, when it doesn’t have to be to unlock immediate value and improved performance.
Learn how you can quickly kick off your Industry 4.0 or digital transformation initiative and easily scale it across your workforce with Parsable’s Connected Worker platform, which powers both industrial giants and some of the world’s most innovative industrial companies. Request a demo today.
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