In a statement for ACHEMA worldwide News, Dr. Eberhard Veit, Managing Partner of 4.0-Veit, Chairman of Festo (till 2016) and Managing Partner of 4.0-Veit; Head of Advisory Board “Plattform Industrie 4.0 der Bundesrepublik Deutschland”, looks into what exactly is new with Industry 4.0 in a special way.
“Not long ago I met four children (one girl and three boys) aged 6–7 that showed great interest in technology. After exchanging a few words we also touched the subject what “Industry 4.0” actually is.
I quickly explained the topics around digitization, networking, new interaction with machines (man-machine interface), the possibility of worldwide 24/7 remote access for better business deals and also new business models — at this point I was interrupted by the four children that had listened carefully up till then.
Astonished I was asked what I thought was so “mega new” with this Industry 4.0?
With great commitment I was told that networking was a common practice amongst the four, their friends and also worldwide acquaintances, via Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Virtual Game Worlds, Second Life etc.! Yes, and business over the internet, “the new business models”, adds 6 year old Kevin, through shopping platforms or service providers is being practiced for years together with their parents. And, everything can be done worldwide — worldwide friendships are made and maintained through the internet and networking, and: the operation rarely occurs with a keyboard, as user interfaces of tablets and smartphones are well-known.
So, they digged deeper, what exactly is new with Industry 4.0?
As member of the advisory board of the platform Industry 4.0 I had a hard time with the argumentation which techniques are actually new, or if they simply had to be transferred to industrial production. One of the boys then explained that he can check the video camera at the door of his apartment and programme the TV at home — all from his smartphone.
And now what!? — Are we really in the midst of a revolution or evolution with Industry 4.0 or are we, as the children concluded, just in a catch-up or transfer process of well-known modules? For this new generation it seems to be self-evident. This is why it is all the more important that the industry takes up this topic even more dynamically and implements it intensely, or, to say it in the words of the four children: transfers it.
Furthermore, please feel free to think of statistics whatever you want, but — if € 12,8 billion were spent on research and development of technology for Industry 4.0 in 2015 by the Federal Republic of Germany, and only € 1,4 billion for education and training to Industry 4.0, then this causes me to worry.
Are we not running the risk that technology rushes ahead, leaving people with their knowledge, their insecurities and anxieties about the future and especially with their motivation behind? That’s why companies are in demand to intensify their efforts in education and training, together with the state, with universities and associations.
Encouraged, however, I look back at ACHEMA 2015: the euphoric mood, the wealth of innovations, the high commitment— actually everything! If it wasn’t just a modern exhibition hype and companies indeed dedicate themselves to these topics according to the Swabian saying “don’t just talk, act”, then were the statements of the four children mere kids chatter — and maybe answers to these questions then will pass my lips easier in two years’ time!”