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Industry 4.0 and technologies: cross-examinations with La Tribune

Industry 4.0 and Technologies: cross-examinations with the journalist

The business paper “La Tribune”(The Tribune – October 28, 2020)looks at the development of industry 4.0. The article also notes the importance of the human component in the future of the industry in France and Europe. It’s about time!

SIMSOFT INDUSTRY’s founding act is to highlight the men and women of industrial production and maintenance in all the processes of introducing the innovations it proposes. The cross-eyed look of the business paper and the supplier of industrial voice assistants serving the men and women of the industry may be relevant.

The image conveyed by the industry in France

Industry 4.0, with its sensors, collaborative robots, additive manufacturing, digital models, practical use of artificial intelligence and augmented reality, can look like a showcase by far. She’s quite the opposite. It implements and accelerates responses to societal and economic needs: the relocation of our factories, adapted production in volume as well as in design, the reduction of our carbon footprint, the control of our costs, support for employment and the reconquest of our territories (c) Pascal LAURIN – The Tribune.

By promoting the modernization of the industrial tool through the “Industry of the Future” and “Industry 4.0” initiatives, the image conveyed by the industry has shifted from one extreme to the other. This is the great gap between the traditional idea of smoking factories, not very clean but with real human solidarity, and the dream of some of a shiny factory, filled with robots put strongly dehumanized. The reality of industrial sites in France is quite different: the industry is far from Zola’s descriptions, but not yet quite as on the image of Epinal conveyed (partly by the industry itself).

The reality is more complex, because industrial production in France still relies heavily on the skills and know-how of business experts in the field. Today in Europe, 20 million people work in the industry on manual tasks. In the digital transformation of Industry 4.0, it is necessary to conserve current resources, and attract new talent. In order to retain the men and women of industrial production, they must be fully involved in the processing process. It’s obvious on paper, it’s a different story on the ground; we’ll see why. In order to attract new employees to technical occupations, these jobs must indeed be made attractive. This attractiveness must be done from an early age, in order to establish a positive image associated with the industry.

For example, all schoolchildren in our German neighbours will have visited at least one trade show during their schooling before the age of 15. For those who have had the chance to participate in shows like Hanover Messe in Germany, schoolchildren of all ages walk the aisles of the show with eyes amazed by the technical prowess of the industry. Can the same be said of our French schoolchildren?

Last example, when an industry boss speaks on television he is mostly in his office. Why doesn’t he talk from a production site or from a factory? The only images received by the public from inside a factory are taken during strikes or social movements… not always positive images.

The image actually conveyed by the idea of industry does not live up to the ambitions of the industry in Europe: to produce better, better quality, while being more environmentally friendly. These are exciting challenges that must be offered to future generations.

Industry 4.0 and Disruptive Innovation: User Centric

Without real factory returns, free of bias and restrictive framework, there is too much risk of going wrong in all respects: operational, economic, human. It is on this basis that the bottom-up method is based, giving employees in factories the freedom to decide what will be useful to them, the budgets to achieve it and the state-of-the-art knowledge of technologies, even emerging ones, to achieve this.
It is because the method dedicates employees to the heart of the transformation strategy that it proves applicable and effective, regardless of the size, configuration, region of the world, the cultures of the industries that apply it. It gives satisfaction by the rise in competence, retains and makes the plant attractive (c)
Pascal LAURIN – The Tribune.

Any upheaval in a human organization must be carefully accompanied if the proposed evolution is to be understood and adopted. The adoption of the digital transformation of the industry is no exception to this law. Support for change also requires semantics, including journalists…

The concept of “bottom-up” mentioned in the article proposes a working method whose name needs to be refined. Indeed, the notions of bottom (bottom) and up (top) evoke a classification of functions: users at the bottom of the decision scale, the top leaders who decide in-fine.

At SIMSOFT INDUSTRY we prefer to introduce a “user-centric” working method, closer to ergonomics. Thus, whether the user is the purchasing boss of a large industrial group, or the person in charge of the maintenance of the machines, their respective weight as users of solutions dedicated to them is equivalent. Without the notion of a higher or lower function, dialogue can be established in a more serene and constructive way with users.

To be relevant and transform usages in the industry, it is also necessary to be as close as possible to the “job” of the user potentially impacted by a transformation. Recognising the job of a production technician, understanding and valuing the competence of a quality control technician are essential support elements. Indeed, if a digital technology, let alone the person in charge of presenting it, understands and integrates the business of users in its approach, half the way to adoption is done.

Understanding the business and integrating users into understanding the added value of a technology for use are key factors for success. When understanding the business, the user can be trained in a new technology, with a different approach to the implementation of his expertise. The adoption of a technology requires its understanding (no more the era of black boxes) and its integration into the working reflexes of users.

Warning: disruptive innovation!

Not all innovations proposed in the implementation of Industry 4.0 exhibit the same degree of disruption or transformation of the tool or working methods. Some offer incremental evolutions, others service innovations. Finally, some innovations are at odds with traditional ways of doing things: the benefit of their contributions is often equal to the disruptions brought by their uses.

Often these disruptive innovations are considered such because the use of the underlying technology is not even well integrated into the daily lives of users. Examples include exoskeletons and industrial voice assistants. In both cases, the traditional user-centric approach is not enough. The method should be strengthened with training and co-creation sessions in order to make the use of the technology itself understood before bringing it closer to the profession. The link with the craft is indeed not natural for the user, not knowing how to exploit this technology.

On the other hand, once understood and adopted these disruptive innovations often bring such a benefit to the user that he can no longer do without it. Its profession is transformed, modernized and more attractive. It is called “well-being in a working situation” for the user. The objective of industry 4.0 transformation is then fulfilled: more production efficiency, more attractiveness of the industry’s trades, and the enhancement of user expertise.

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Press Contact: Laura PALACIN, laura.palacin@simsoft-industry.fr, 05 31 61 85 10 / 06 26 84 55 58

About SIMSOFT INDUSTRY (www.simsoft-industry.com and www.spix.ai)

SIMSOFT INDUSTRY develops the first Intelligent Vocal Assistant 100% dedicated to Industry 4.0 technicians. The