Professional service company and auditor KPMG has released a report aiming to debunk myths about the progress of Industry 4.0 (i4.0), and encourage more manufacturers to digitize their processes.

The vision for i4.0 takes automated manufacturing to the next stage, teaching machines to make intelligent decisions based on data collected from the process. At 3D Printing Industry we have been following this progress toward “cyber physical systems” as more companies adopt additive manufacturing into Factory of the Future concepts.

Manufacturing's progression to Industry 4.0. Image via: Sheffield.ac.uk

Manufacturing’s progression to Industry 4.0. Image via: Sheffield.ac.uk

Surveying the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pascific

Beyond the hype of Industry 4.0 is co-authored by Michael Bremicker, Global Head of i4.0, Partner, KPMG in Germany, and Doug Gates, Global Sector Chair, Industrial Manufacturing and Global Head of Aerospace and Defense at KPMG. In addition, it takes into account in person interviews with representatives of 26 companies across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions.

Demographic of the 26 companies selected to compile the KPMG report. Image via KPMG International.

Demographic of the 26 companies selected to compile the KPMG report. Image via KPMG International.

In the interviews, and subsequent factory walk-throughs, company representatives best prepared to give insight to i4.0 status answered a set of questions relating to the six required dimensions of an i4.0 framework.

Broken down, these dimensions are: Services & Networks, Strategy & business model, Systems & processes, Employees & competencies, Finance & risk management, and Technology – that includes a branch for additive manufacturing, and concepts such as the digital twin.

6 dimensions of the industry 4.0 framework. Image by KPMG International

6 dimensions of the industry 4.0 framework. Image by KPMG International

Small scale i4.0 experimentation is coming to end

In the report co-authors state that though most manufacturers are investing in i4.0 capabilities, it is only the very few that are actually operating at the scale required to give the industry its projected value. By this, the authors relate to the adoption of pilot schemes in factories.

Potential examples, as reported by 3D Printing Industry, include the adidas Speedfactory concept for 3D printed sneakers, and Premium AEROTEC, EOS and Daimler’s Next Gen AM project. Both of the concepts have the technology to drive forward i4.0, but this report is calling for action on company-wide scale.

Retaliating, KPMG authors add that,

We believe that the time for small- scale i4.0 experimentation is coming to a close. Indeed, to win in tomorrow’s competitive environment, we believe that manufacturers will need to start being bolder in their vision, strategies and actions.

Be bold. Think big. Plan ahead.

With regard to the supply-chain in particular, where 3D printing has its biggest impact, authors comment that

Our discussions suggest that a few leaders are moving quickly to integrate their suppliers and customers into a demand-driven supply chain.

In addition “They are using sensors to predict various supply chain scenarios,” as in Optomec’s 3D printed sensors for turbine blades, and IoT integration from the likes of PTC. Furthermore, the report finds that leading i4.0 manufacturers are looking to reduce waste through smarter systems, and encourage the sharing of data.

In order to back up the productivity of the supply chain then, bolder actions are required in every other are of a product’s lifecycle, consolidated by the report into the five following points:

"5 key takeaways for manufacturers" from Beyond the hype of Industry 4.0. Image via: KPMG International

“5 key takeaways for manufacturers” from Beyond the hype of Industry 4.0. Image via: KPMG International

The full report from KPMG, Beyond the hype of Industry 4.0, is available to read online here.

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Featured image: KUKA robotic arms providing spot-welding at BMW Leipzig. One automated part of Industry 4.0. Photo via BMW Werk Leipzig – bmw-werk-leipzig.de

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