Security, standards and experts – what’s needed for Industry 4.0

In my first blog post, Industry 4.0 software solutions: Who knows better than the users?, I focused on what kind of Industry 4.0 software solutions production managers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland need. To find out, Bosch Software Innovations surveyed more than 180 users at various manufacturing companies in these countries.

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Our 2015 market survey also asked users what roadblocks they see on the path toward implementing Industry 4.0 software solutions. Data security was the prevailing concern, including issues ranging from how to safeguard intellectual property against e‑spionage, hacker attacks, and manipulation to more general aspects of system security and protection of personal data. “For me, data security is the most important issue,” said one of the survey respondents when asked what obstacles stand in the way of connected manufacturing.

Good practices for developing Industry 4.0 software in the field are already available, e.g. secure software engineering processes that include threat and risk analyses. We need to emphasize communicating these practices, as that helps establish a basis for the required trust from production experts.

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But what did other respondents have to say? What other obstacles do production experts still have to overcome? What other topics are important while moving toward the factory of the future? To better clarify the various concerns, we clustered the answers into groups.

Major concerns refer to organizational aspects as well as human resources ones

The lack of or unclear definition of standards and the lack of compatibility between new and existing systems are issues that are being addressed by various organizations, such as Plattform Industrie 4.0, the Industrial Internet Consortium, the Eclipse Foundation, and the OSGi Alliance. Bosch contributes to many of these groups, in keeping with its approach of “learning through specific projects” – this means finding out which standards are required by implementing specific applications with different partners worldwide and across disciplines.

Another principal concern is the lack of a different kind of expert know-how needed to implement Industry 4.0 projects. One of the survey participants summarized it neatly: “The success of Industry 4.0 projects depends on IT experts and engineers speaking a common language. Only by working together can we find the perfect solution.” My colleague Marc Schnadinger has already written on this topic, calling it a “new career profile for Industry 4.0”. What’s needed most is for IT experts to gain insight into essential production processes so they are able to identify how software solutions can best improve performance. For this reason, we are training IT experts at Bosch Software Innovations, e.g. in lean production and the Bosch production system principles.

Users raised a number of other points that they feel are important to achieving sustainable implementation of Industry 4.0 software solutions. I chose to highlight the two below because they seem to be especially key.

  • Production managers are still struggling to identify the best Industry 4.0 projects to start with. “Too little is shared about specific examples of applications and their tangible benefits for plant operators,” as one of the survey participants put it. They usually don’t have enough information regarding a solution’s costs and benefits in practice.
  • As Werner Struth, member of the board of management at Robert Bosch GmbH, explains in this recent blog post, data is the key raw material for Industry 4.0. Also, production managers have stated the importance of insights gained from production data, and of further developing this expertise using appropriate methods, such as data mining.

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About the author

Stefanie Peitzker

Stefanie Peitzker

I have a graduate degree in management with a specialization in geography (University Augsburg, Germany). Since 2003, I work for Bosch Software Innovations: I have built up marketing for Visual Rules, our Business Rules Management System and contributed in winning customers around the globe. Since January 2009, I run the Marketing Solutions team at Bosch Software Innovations, an agile team of currently seven associates, all trying to permanently learn more about the customers´needs and market trends - focused on making software solutions a real experience. I have been writing for different technology magazines (e.g. JavaMagazine). When I don't work, I love to spend time - leisure as well as action - with my kids and in my running shoes around the Lake of Constance.