The majority of the 181 survey participants from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland already use connected software solutions – and an even higher percentage are planning to introduce Industry 4.0 software solutions over the course of the next 12 months. However, organizational hurdles, data security concerns, and a lack of properly qualified employees are currently seen as the biggest barriers to the deployment of Industry 4.0 software solutions. These are some of the findings from a Bosch Software Innovations survey of manufacturing companies including some Bosch plants. Respondents cited the main barriers as a lack of/unclear standards (15 percent), data security concerns (13 percent), a lack of transparent cost-benefit analyses (12 percent), and poor compatibility of current solutions with existing systems (11 percent).
Standards are not always the answer
Many of the survey participants feel that standards for connected manufacturing have still not been properly established or clearly formulated – or simply don’t exist. “But that doesn’t mean companies should wait around for industry to come up a clear and definitive set of standards. The only way to learn which standards we ultimately need is by implementing concrete applications,” says Daniel Hug, Head of the Vertical Manufacturing and Logistics at Bosch Software Innovations. Hug argues that companies should start up their own projects in their core business to benefit from the added value that is already available, and he adds: “The motto for Industry 4.0 is gradual evolution rather than revolution. Learning from concrete examples is the key. That’s the fastest way of giving managers a feel for the cost/benefit balance and ideas for further use cases. And if you integrate existing systems right from the start you can alleviate compatibility problems, which were one of the key barriers cited by the survey participants.”
Data security still needs work
The second major obstacle to Industry 4.0 is data security. When asked about this issue explicitly, 59 percent of the survey participants admitted they are concerned about the data security aspects of deploying Industry 4.0 software solutions. Guarding against manipulation and e-spionage were the two most critical issues cited by respondents. “That’s where you need to focus if you’re in the business of providing applications for connected industry,” says Hug. “Important and effective practices are already available, such as systematic threat and risk analyses. It’s essential to clearly set out and communicate these practices in a way that everyone can clearly understand – including people who are not IT experts – and to present the relevant facts in each case. That will help build at least some of the trust that is required from production managers.”
New career profiles for Industry 4.0
The survey also revealed that 27 percent of respondents see current resources as a hurdle. The most-cited problem was a shortage of employees who have the expertise and profiles required for Industry 4.0 projects. The fact is that connected manufacturing applications require a completely new set of skills. Companies need people who can offer process and production expertise combined with IT know-how. “It’s important for engineers and computer scientists to find a common language. That’s why you need service providers and partners like Bosch Software Innovations who can bring together production and IT experts to implement these kinds of projects in the future,” Hug concludes.
You can download the results of the Industry 4.0 study here.