What no one is telling you about Manufacturing 4.0

It is NOT just about Sensors and IoT Technology stack

Unfortunately, many “experts” with limited understanding of Industry X.0 landscape may make you believe otherwise.

The book that I am holding in the picture below is from an engineering undergrad course I took almost two decades ago. (yes, it is beat up because its THAT old). This whole textbook on sensors from allmost 20 years ago should be proof enough that the technology of sensors and capturing data generated by sensors is nothing groundbreaking (methodology has improved for sure). The buzz should not be about sensors and the process of data generation and capture from these sensors. This setup is the foundation but is not what will become the differentaitor.


Yes….It is about Data

According to an IDC estimate, by 2020, there will be more than 44 Zetabytes of data in the world, of which 35% will be considered useful for analysis. The biggest proportion of this data will be data generated by smartened up Industrial enterprises and their ecosystems.

When you see cover stories like the one shown in the picture below from the most recent issue of The Economist, it is not because the devices now have sensors -the hype is not about the “Smart Devices” themselves but about the data generated by these devices.



Data is the output that defines the true essence of Manufacturing 4.0 capabilities. In order to effectively leverage 4.0 capabilities, Manufacturers have no other options but to continuously, precisely and effectively collect and analyze  the data since it will be the lifeblood of a grown-up outcome economy based on services around physical hardware.

So why is focus currently not on Data ?

You see what is repeatedly shown to you. And then you eventually start believeing that.

Majority of Vendors who are peddling different services and products in the 4.0 domain have capabilities and expertise around the “easy” part – the part of setting up the infrastructure/ecosystem. I read about a vendor that charged a company for installing sensors on equipments that the client did not know came with dozens of sensors pre-installed.

Making the best use of device and equipment generated data requires much more advanced Data Science skills, combined with deep expertise of functions & business operating models

And that is precisely the reason these vendors and “Experts” try not to get into it and deviate your attention away from it. Has any single vendor ever told you:

  • What type of Analytical algorithms you need to leverage data from equipments in a specific process (say extrusion) ? 
  • Why that specific algorithm and how do the characteristics of operating variables impact the choice of that algorithm ?
  • That the algorithms for predictive maintenance may differ between process types ?

Questions above are indicative but the point here is that:

The core essence of Industry 4.0 is Data and the capabilities in the market to advise expertly on that are currently limited.

Focus on building capabilities around this data

It is time to move beyond “Demo of Digital Twins”. Challenge any vendors that pivot around that since a Digital Twin, even though the foundation of a smart process, is plainly a pool of real time data.

While you should welcome any vendor that promises you to help create this, they should also have plans on the next steps on how the data being captured by the Digital Twin will be effectively used.

In the absence of any Analytics, the “Digital Twin” is just another Dashboard with real time data visibility.

Developing that basic ecosystem of hardware and software to create the Digital Twin will soon become commodity.

The real value add is how you can use the data to gain the competitive edge.

Those who build capabilities early will be winners

As mentioned above, like any Technology, the Hardware and software part of Industry X.0 will get comodditized and everyone will have it. The real differentiator will be how the data generated is being leveraged and just like any Industry you see currently, those who develop an early expertise in this domain will win.


View my Own.



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