Moving to an Industry 4.0 environment is key for future success in the industrial and manufacturing sector, but migration to this new world does not have to take place in a disruptive, big bang manner, says toy company Lego elements and moulds VP Jesper Toubol.
“South African enterprises are moving to embrace Industry 4.0 models and technologies to enhance efficiencies and remain competitive, but adapting to these new models is not without challenges.”
Speaking ahead of Africa Automation Fair and the Connected Industries Conference that is taking place from June 4 to 6, 2019, at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, where he will deliver the keynote address on Industry 4.0, Toubol mentions that traditional business culture and a lack of effective change management can challenge efforts to move to an Industry 4.0 environment.
He will present some of Lego’s Industry 4.0 learnings inside his area of expertise at the opening of the Connected Industries Conference, with practical advice on key technologies, managing change and the capabilities needed in the workforce. The conference will be staged alongside Africa Automation Fair, the exhibition for the automation and control industry.
Additionally, event planner Reed Exhibitions organiser Marius Smit says Industry 4.0 is a top priority for South African enterprises seeking to grow efficiencies and become more competitive internationally.
By addressing local concerns and Industry 4.0 ambitions, the Connected Industries Conference will assess South Africa’s Industry 4.0 progress, consider whether Industry 4.0 can revive South African manufacturing and look at the impact of disruptive technologies on business.
He adds that the Connected Industries Conference will drill down into specific areas such as smart communication platforms, the components of smart factories, system interoperability, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), blockchain, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality, cloud solutions and data analytics for the industrial environment.
The Connected Industries Conference at Africa Automation Fair 2019 will focus on the economic impact of Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, on South and sub-Saharan Africa, and how to bring this technology shift to South Africa, says Smit.
He adds that the fair exhibition and conference will illustrate ways to overcome manufacturing stagnation and fast-track growth, by showcasing the latest technologies, solutions and models for next-generation manufacturing.
The fair is a focused networking platform for the automation and control industry and works closely with industry associations. This includes the Industrial Instrumentation Group and Society for Automation Instrumentation Measurement, notes Smit.
“The fair targets senior buyers from South Africa and the rest of Africa and invites participation from international buyers.”
Meanwhile, key to effectively moving to Industry 4.0 is to move from a traditional waterfall approach to an agile approach, explains Toubol. “It is not necessary to do massive roll-outs: development and change can be implemented faster in small stages.”
He adds that it is also important to demystify what Industry 4.0 means, particularly among workforces, and to emphasise the business case and workforce benefits of moving to an Industry 4.0 environment. “So effective change management is crucial.”
Toubol concludes that industry is confronted with the rapid advent of Industry 4.0 at the same time as older pre-Internet management faces the arrival of a wave of Millennials and ‘digital natives’ into the workplace, resulting in myriad cultural and operational changes in industrial environments. “Enterprises need to accept new ways of working.”