As technologists at heart, we are always looking ahead, developing solutions and updates to improve customer experience and create opportunities for businesses to transform their operations – and indeed their internal culture to one that can take full advantage of predictive maintenance. 2017 saw steady progress in industry awareness of condition monitoring (CM) and prognostics and whilst we are seeing some external challenges encroaching in the form of the new GDPR regulations which will no doubt throw up some added complications early in the year. Overall, we look to 2018 with great enthusiasm for Industry 4.0.
Senseye’s CCO, Alexander Hill, capitalized on his background in digital systems engineering and large-scale sensor systems to move into business development, marketing and strategic planning. Here he talks about the market for Industry 4.0 as it stands and where he sees opportunities in 2018.
“Businesses must be prepared for the cultural shift required for successful Industry 4.0 adoption”
I’ll talk about Industry 4.0 in relation to what I believe it its most exciting use case - Prognostics. It’s still in the very early adoption phase by industry so there’s a long way to go before reaching saturation; 2018 is almost certainly not the year where we will see mass adoption of this technology. However, interest is steadily growing and I expect that to continue, particularly with some high-profile case studies emerging from heavy industrial sites across Europe and Asia. The increased support we’re seeing at board level is a positive indicator, as buy-in from this level is crucial to achieve the cultural shift required to fully embrace Industry 4.0 opportunities. There’s a realisation that Industry 4.0 is not a single solution, but more likely a combination of solutions from different vendors.
Machine OEMs appear to be lagging behind end users on real-world use of Predictive Maintenance (PdM)/CM. They are still talking about the technology processes (how to capture and connect data), but Industry 4.0 is much more than this and any adopters must also embrace necessary and often difficult cultural change to best take advantage. Whilst OEMS are starting to have these conversations, their end-users the manufacturing organisations are relying on PdM to make their operations more productive and cost-effective.
From my perspective, the biggest change I anticipate seeing over the next 12 months is in market development. I expect to see a growing awareness of Industry 4.0 leading to more board-level discussions and initiatives, greater use of machine learning for prognostics, more case studies coming through and more competitors coming into the market looking to take advantage of the growing opportunities, getting ready for a big push into adoption of this technology in 2019-2020. There’s been a lot of hype in this area and whilst I won’t point fingers directly, some of the high-profile backfire that has already begun risks damaging the credibility and adoption of Industry 4.0 / PdM as a whole.
CTO Robert Russell has spent over 20 years designing and deploying complex condition monitoring and prognostics solutions across the aerospace, defence and transport sectors. Here he shares his outlook for Industry 4.0 technology.
“What I find most interesting is the development of adjacent technologies.”
I believe that 2018 will be a great year for Industry 4.0. The middleware platforms that underpin the IIoT are becoming more flexible and more prevalent within the manufacturing sector, and there has been a lot of hype over the last 24 months thanks to investment from the platform vendors. I feel that we’re approaching a tipping point where this technology will become more widely adopted.
This is also reflected in hardware; we are now seeing machinery with pre-configured sensors, a huge step forward in the world of the smart factory and a clear indicator that demand set to grow. Retrofit continues to be a huge market with ever more hardware vendors offering better quality data.
What I find most interesting is the development of adjacent technologies. We are seeing the emergence of a wider asset management toolkit alongside CM, with many new customers having parallel projects in place. This increased demand is very interesting for us, as our software can work as a standalone system and also integrate with a more wide-reaching management system for an holistic and more bespoke, opportunistic customer solution.
My advice to anyone looking to invest in Industry 4.0 in 2018 remains the same: identify where there are bottlenecks and assess what is already in place that you can leverage to demonstrate value on a smaller scale before extending sitewide. The important thing is to make that first step.
CEO Dr Simon Kampa started his career designing and developing large scale data-driven applications before turning to running successful software companies. Here he discusses the 2018 regulatory landscape for Industry 4.0.
“The (non) regulation of a data-centric industry.”
The basic principle of Industry 4.0 is the enabling of machines and people to communicate through the exchange of data. Data from sensors, machinery, devices or people comes be in multiple formats which then need to be aggregated and analysed before any results or actions can be ascertained. What is interesting is that there is no formal government standard for this data exchange process. This lack of regulation both helps and hinders us; it provides us with a greater degree of flexibility to meet customer requirements but, where a customer has their own corporate standard, we must then invest time to understand it and respond accordingly.
Some middleware platforms have their own framework which may be the start of some standardization, but there is no data exchange standard on the horizon. Should there be? I can see the discussion building as Industry 4.0 becomes more widely adopted, but for now it’s too early in the adoption cycle.
The regulation that is coming into force in 2018 is of course GDPR. This new data protection regime will be a challenge for the industry and we anticipate being audited – and carrying out our own audits - in due course. As a start-up, carrying out GDPR audits and supplier checks will require a huge resource commitment. Although we do not hold much in the way of personal data, we do still process huge data volumes and work with third party cloud storage hosts, so need to understand and manage any risks to meet the new requirements. It’ll be a challenge and we hope that the industry will take a phased approach to its implementation, allowing time for sufficient checks and for any resulting actions to be carried out.
The future of Condition Monitoring
Technologies like Industry 4.0 are dramatically increasing the volume of data that can now be captured and analysed from the shop-floor in realtime. The discipline of Condition Monitoring benefits vastly from this, yet current methods of analysis are simply not scalable.
We’ve put together a free white paper on Condition Monitoring, talking briefly about its past, present techniques and where it’s going to keep pace with Industry 4.0. Download your free copy here: