This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

The road to Industry 4.0 Maturity

04 February 2019

Paul Taylor talks about the Industry 4.0 Maturity Index which was developed to help companies introduce Industry 4.0 in manageable steps.

Many organisations do not yet have a coherent plan for Industry 4.0 implementation, while others use Industry 4.0 only in selected areas of the organisation. However to unlock all the opportunities offered by connected and smart production, efforts need to be extended to include the likes of logistics and customer service into the Industry 4.0 approach.

To address these challenges the Industry 4.0 Maturity Index was developed by a consortium of research institutions working under the umbrella of acatech (Deutsche Akademie der Technikwissenschaften) 

The objective of this group of experts was to create a tool that enabled Industry 4.0 to be introduced in manageable steps and to provide a solid basis and certainty for investments and planning. 

The index is a systematic guide, supporting companies in the integration and continuous improvement of their IT and communication systems. To this end, it defines six successive stages:
1. Computerisation: While the use of IT and process automation has already become the standard, companies still use insular information systems at this stage.

2. Connectivity: Once the individual components are connected, companies have reached the maturity stage of connectivity and implemented digitalisation as defined in this guideline. However, they have not yet achieved full integration between information and operational technologies.

3. Visibility: At this stage, companies start to use sensors for real-time recording of conditions and processes. They produce a digital model of production, a ‘digital shadow’ that shows what is happening at any given point in time.

4. Transparency: Once companies use the digital shadow to identify and understand interactions, they have reached stage 4. To do so, they need to interpret the recorded data in the relevant contexts by applying engineering knowledge. Big data applications are deployed in parallel to business application systems – such as ERP  or MES – to provide a common platform for data analysis.

5. Predictive capacity: To simulate scenarios and evaluate them in terms of their likelihood and consequences, the digital shadow is projected into the future. As a result, companies can anticipate future developments and make the necessary decisions.

6. Adaptability: At the highest stage of maturity, the IT systems will make these decisions independently. At this stage, Industry 4.0 has been realised in full. IT systems initiate the necessary alignment measures automatically and without delay. The extent to which IT systems will be allowed to act autonomously depends on two aspects: first, on the complexity of the decision, and second, on the cost-benefit ratio of automated versus human actions.

A structured approach
The Maturity Index has a modular structure and covers five functional areas: development, production, logistics, services, and marketing and sales. However, Industry 4.0 is more than the mere connection of cyber-physical systems (CPS), as a company’s corporate culture is equally important to its organisational structure. To address this, the index therefore defines four structural areas: 

• Resources: Includes a company’s workforce and their competencies, equipment, facilities, tools and products. 
• Information systems: Refers to socio-technical systems in which people and technology provide and process data. 
• Organisational structure: Covers rules and structures which control a company’s internal and external relationships. 
• Corporate culture: Refers to a company’s value system, such as its workforce’s willingness to accept and actively shape change.

Application of the Maturity Index covers three phases. The first phase is to analyse the current maturity stage to provide an overview of the current state of digitalisation. 

The second phase involves the definition of specific goals, including consideration of both the use of digital processes and corporate strategy. A gap analysis then identifies the capabilities and resources that are still needed to achieve these objectives. The final phase sees the experts develop a digital roadmap to build-up these capabilities, with actions being prioritised on the basis of a cost-benefit matrix.

The connected world of Industry 4.0’s smart factories adds a new and significant dimension of complexity. What makes the Maturity Index so useful is that single action delivers measurable benefits and the process is traceable at all times. 

Paul Taylor is head of industrial products (UK) at TÜV SÜD Product Service.

Contact Details and Archive...

Print this page | E-mail this page