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Production companies can make big profits when they pair the intelligent factory with the customer experience.

Predictive maintenance is an early example of connected production, but there are even greater gains to come with  Industry 4.0 .

Pioneers in manufacturing such as the Kaeser Compressor and Lockheed Martin have already connected physical products to the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and have thus devised predictive maintenance systems and achieved better product reliability. Customers have even been offered products “as a service”.

Other asset-consuming organizations in mining, energy and supply, oil and gas, as well as the chemical industry, have followed and achieved improvements in areas such as equipment reliability.

2018 Deloitte study  revealed that “top executives from the oil and gas sector believed that Asset Performance Management (APM) program data was more likely to deliver business value than other areas of intelligent production.”

But early in the year this year, the Professional Services company asked the same executives about how digital technologies can best be used. They subsequently ranked APM lower than cost reductions on maintenance and operation, and lower than safety improvements.

The report pointed out:

“Simply implementing APM software and digitizing existing processes is unlikely to improve core business and create the financial results that top executives want (and investors require).”

Instead, the study found that the untapped, transformative aspects of digital initiatives are expected to interconnect systems across the enterprise: from Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), security and quality to inventory management.

Manufacturing companies’ ongoing struggle  to break down technology silos and gain access to Industry 4.0 is a topic that Wolfgang Lucny, DXC Technology’s Manufacturing Industry Executive for Northern and Central Europe, is very concerned with.

“Many companies have not done their digital basic work before embarking on Industry 4.0 projects,” points out Wolfgang Lucny.

“They need to master the basics such as connecting: How to get connected machines in the factory that are not as old but can be both near the end of their life, middle-aged and new.”

The maturity of Industry 4.0 will also include linking silos in the factories to the business itself, Wolfgang Lucny believes:

“Digital product and customer experiences without a backend to the production systems – it just doesn’t work.”

In fact, DXC has announced their intention to  acquire Luxoft customer experience specialist  as a step on the road to expanding opportunities to integrate the factory, business and customer experience, Wolfgang Lucny points out.

Meanwhile, DXC will continue to help customers scale their connected production projects by ensuring that the expected impact is defined in terms of business value.

“Too many pilot projects [within Industry 4.0] are carried out with a bottom-up approach and by nerds trying out the latest and greatest technologies,” says Wolfgang Lucny.

“They might work at the technological proof-of-concept level, but they don’t prove the business value.”

Business value inevitably lies in increased revenue, better productivity or better customer experiences. However, as Wolfgang Lucny points out, it must also be defined by each production company in relation to user stories:

“These are the issues they think they can solve and how they can gain benefits – or minimize challenges. That’s where Industry 4.0 can really deliver.”

Read more:  How to overcome the challenges of intelligent production

Read more:  How to exploit the potential of Industry 4.0?

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