There is a big hype on anything related to computers in manufacturing. I have written quite a few cautionary articles on the Industry 4.0 bandwagon. This post looks more in-depth into artificial intelligence (AI). I believe there are possible applications of AI in manufacturing, but at the moment these are still uncommon. In this post I would like to talk a bit about the hype, but also present a few examples of where it actually works. Let me show you:
Pretty much ten years ago, in April 2011, Industry 4.0 was first presented to the audience at the Hannover Messe in Germany. Industry 4.0 made lots of promises about everything getting better and easier. But, <surprise Pikachu>, it did not. Let’s have a look.
To round up our tour of a van full of nerds to study Industry 4.0 in Germany, here is the report on different presentations and tryouts. These were not plant visits, but different demonstrations by some smaller and one not-so-small (Bosch) companies. The first four were at the Arena 2036, a research collaboration to explore the future of the automobile. The other three were at the respective companies locations. Also quite insightful.
As part of our van full of nerds tour through southern Germany to study Industry 4.0, we also visited two companies, Kärcher and Siemens. Siemens is probably well known to all of you. We went to their Amberg plant where they make programmable logic controllers. Kärcher is a smaller company that makes pressure washers and industrial cleaning machines. Let me show you what we found.
As one of the stops on our van full of nerds touring southern Germany to study Industry 4.0, we also visited Trumpf. However, we didn’t go to the main plant in Ditzingen but to a much-smaller plant in Gerlingen that makes stamping tools. I have heard a lot of good things about Trumpf Gerlingen, and wanted to see if it is true. Let’s find out:
In 2019 I organized a non-commercial Industry 4.0 tour for some friends through my university, the Karlsruhe University of Applied Science. For the first week in July 2019, we rented a van and toured southern Germany. We visited fourteen different locations in five days to understand the current state of Industry 4.0 in Germany. Almost all of these locations were Industry 4.0 award-winning enterprises. However, our assessment of Industry 4.0 often differed from these awards. Since we all come from the lean corner, we often have a different outlook on things than people who specialize in Industry 4.0. Let me give you an overview of our tour: