The internet 4.0 question for SMEs – answered

Comment by Peter Roberts

Occasionally you meet or hear someone who can cut through to the big question facing Australia’s mainly SME manufacturing community – how do I start the journey to industry 4.0?

We all know we should be capturing, analysing and feeding back learnings from data in real time to our manufacturing processes.

But if I am a man or woman with a few machines what does that mean to me when I have product to get out the door?

David Hart, CEO of company strategic adviser Damatec told a story at the Industrial Internet 4.0 summit in Sydney of a business with just a few laser cutting machines.

The company knew they were experiencing machine downtime but not how much – they didn’t know the level of machine utility.

Installing dirt cheap IoT sensors that reported downtime and using an audible and visual alert system brought swift response from operators.

Hart said: “They found an immediate productivity boost from a very simple sensor.

“Once they started to see the value of information, that opened their eyes to the value of the data they could collect.”

While it has always been possible to collect information on such things as machine downtime, Hart’s point is that cheap sensors have made the process so much simpler.

We can rely on our small number of leading firms to take advantage of industry 4.0.

But the question has been to me, how can this penetrate the vast majority of SMEs that are just getting on with the job of servicing their current customers.

Hart’s insight, if we could get it across to SMEs, could be so powerful for productivity, and ultimately for competitiveness.

Just start very small with something that can bring immediate benefits, and move on from there.

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