Podcast 68: TADSummit Innovators, Matthew Smith, Industry4.0

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At the TADSummit event later this year we’ll have a theme on Industry4.0. TADSummit has always included programmable Industrial IoT (Internet of Things), with presenters from Twilio and Stacuity.

However, the role of programmable communications in Industry 4.0 is so much greater than IoT. This became apparent last year in the side conversations between all the mavericks and independent experts exploring the problems they are solving. The reason we’re folding this into TADSummit is because innovation comes from the outsiders. More on this later.

In this podcast we explore what is meant by Industry4.0, the changes that are happening in manufacturing, and the opportunity in applying programmable communications to avoid telecoms being considered ‘just’ a utility pipe.

Matthew explained the term’s origin, from the Hanover Trade Show (Messe) in 2008, and the German industrial machine positioned the evolution of its manufacturing prowess. The term The Fourth Industrial Revolution can be considered similar, though the hype is perhaps excessive. However, there are some principles in bringing manufacturing into the 21st century that demonstrate the important role programmable communications can play.

The 3 other industrial revolutions are:

  • First: 18th century, steam power and mechanisation of production
  • Second: 19th century, electricity and assembly line production
  • Third: ’70s in the 20th century through automation using programmable logic controller (PLCs, operations technology)

Industry 4.0 has become a grab bag of trendy technologies, hopes and dreams. It’s in danger of going the same way Digital Transformation, an overused term that means whatever you want it to mean. However, there are some core principles:

  • Integration of Operations Technology (OT, automation) and Information Technology (IT, computerization) using data to create a real-time view of the company.
  • A data strategy is critical to implementing Industry 4.0. Here Tesla and Amazon are used as leading examples of using data to accelerate production, insights, predictions, employee productivity, and customer focus. Here’s the link to the Walker Reynold’s presentation on Industry4.0 mentioned in the podcast.
  • Matthew highlighted the importance of building on a solid foundation, and here is the danger of listening to the big vendor marketing. They’ll position buying their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software as the answer. Tesla built its own platform, warp, as the existing solutions where inadequate. Warp is a real-time, collaborative, and synced operations for a seamless workflow across Tesla production and staff functions. Here’s a great video explaining warp.

On the warp video you’ll hear about the importance of customer feedback, in real-time, back into the organization. And this is a critical role programmable communications plays in Industry4.0. Part of the Data Strategy for every Industry 4.0 implementation should include vCon, the PDF for conversations. Every customer, partner, and internal conversation should be available as vCons to understand the customer experience, their expectations, and where the market is going. Customer feedback drives the product process.

In the discussion with Matthew I made an error in pointing out the product is king in production. Matthew corrected me, it’s the customer experience, as without a winning experience, the company may not be around for long. So chatbots, vCons, conversations are critical parts on Industry4.0. Yet we’re not communicating that to the manufacturing industry, hence why an Industry4.0 theme at TADSummit. As well as a chance for the mavericks and independent experts to cut through the BS and focus on reality.

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