TECHNOLOGY for the 1.5%
Industry 4.0 isn’t targeted at SMEs. It’s targeted at the 1.5% of manufacturers that are large OEM or Tier 1 manufacturers; the manufacturers that could afford to be early adopters of these new technologies. This would be fine, if it wasn’t for the fact that the other 98.5% of manufacturers that are SMEs have as much in common with global OEMs, as apples have with oranges. Unlike the big players, SMEs typically have less capital, less time, and fewer technical staff available to utilise new technologies.
As a result, Industry 4.0 technologies are often the cause of bewilderment and apathy amongst SMEs; partly because of the complexity of the solutions available, but often simply because the world of Industry 4.0 is brimming with unnecessary and confusing jargon.
Complicated = Expensive (right?)
One reason for this is because of a trend that originated in Silicon Valley, whereby software companies would take a simple technology, and describe it in the most grandiose way possible to convince customers that they couldn’t possibly create anything similar to it, and that it therefore warrants a high price tag. Probably the best example of this is Artificial Intelligence, or AI, which was originally used to refer to software replicating human intelligence or to describe objects with a level of autonomy, such as missiles or robots; but is now being used to describe anything down to a piece of simple software using a single basic algorithm.
This strategy of overcomplicated terminology might work for attracting global OEMs, but for a lot of SMEs, the way these technologies are described just puts them off from engaging with digital technologies altogether. Manufacturing as an industry is straight-talking, honest and frank, so the technologies for manufacturers should reflect this.
Whilst many believe that workers should be upskilled to use these new technologies; a more logical route should surely be to follow the design of consumer technologies, and make solutions that are simple enough for anybody to use without training. Solutions that are quick to implement and easy to use, with user experience being a top priority.
For the Jargon Lovers
If you’re one of the few that actually like all the buzz words, you’ll be delighted to hear that this March we will be introducing a new feature to Elements Docket; taking big data that’s been captured from Internet of Things devices, storing it on the cloud, and using artificial intelligence and machine learning to process data through advanced algorithms in real-time to create analytical insights for your workforce. Or, put simply for those that prefer plain English, we’ll be able to tell you whether each of your orders is likely to be on time, or not.
Find out more about our new features and sign up for our free trial at elementstechnology.co.uk/allnew