Manufacturing Innovation summit to explore how Industry 4.0 reshapes the manufacturing world

Sanjay Ravi, Worldwide Managing Director, Discrete Manufacturing Industry: Automotive, Aerospace, High Tech & Electronics, and Industrial

We all know that the trends of big data, cloud computing, social media, and mobile computing are going to impact businesses, but what we often need are some concrete examples and dialogue around how these trends will reshape the way that manufacturers will innovate, perform, and grow. The Manufacturing Innovation Summit hosted by Microsoft will cover these topics.

The Manufacturing Innovation Summit 2014 will be held in Stuttgart on Feb. 26, 2014 at the Porche Museum. The summit discussions will explore Industry 4.0, a strategic initiative and platform for the fourth industrial revolution that encompasses trends including big data and the Internet of Things (IoT). Known as “Industrie 4.0” in Germany, the initiative is a collaboration between the German government, industry, and academics. The concepts involved in the initiative are fully explained in this report and highlighted in this video.

In-depth reports and industry events are great ways to collaborate ideas on how to harness the major technology shifts. It’s one thing to hear forecasts from analysts firms, such as the recent prediction by IDC that spending on big data will grow by 30 percent in 2014, but it’s quite another to hear from a leading discrete manufacturer such as automaker BMW AG about how they are using big data.

At the summit, one of presenters speaking about big data trends will be Dr. Johann Prenninger, Head of Field Data Analytics with BMW AG. Others scheduled to speak at the event on Industry 4.0 related trends include managers from Carl-Zeiss AG, a leading manufacturer of optical and optoelectronic solutions, and Krones AG, a world leader in packaging and bottling machines.

The emerging technology capabilities enable manufacturers to transform their businesses from a focus on just manufacturing and delivering products to delivering a new set of products, experiences, and ongoing high impact services. Events such as the Manufacturing Innovation Summit and efforts such as Industry 4.0 are worthwhile because they show what is possible and how forward looking manufacturers are deploying these initiatives today. The challenge of mapping technology to concrete advantages around innovation, performance and growth also is why Microsoft devised and published a Reference Architecture Framework for Discrete Manufacturing, known as DIRA.

There are many possibilities when it comes to how the new technology pillars can help a manufacturer innovate, perform, and grow. Sometimes, the new technologies can achieve more than one positive outcome. For example, an equipment manufacturer who comes out with a new line of smart, connected products can increase sales, bring more efficiency to the way that product gets serviced in the field, and perhaps also innovate around new predictive maintenance services made possible by the intelligence and real time connectivity in the equipment delivered via a mobile device.

So while some may quibble with the growth forecasts for megatrends like the IoT or big data, we all know these technology shifts are coming. The challenge is to prepare through education and events so that we can identify the best ways to apply the technologies in our companies.