Don’t leave humans out of the Industry 4.0 equation
At the recent Integr8 conference in Detroit, a panel of five speakers from Bosch Rexroth discussed how to successfully implement Industry 4.0. Key to connected industry, they all agreed, was ensuring that people are at the center of decision-making.
Rodney Rusk, the i4 business leader for Bosch Rexroth, kicked off the talk by saying, “In our mind, people are what’s going to drive the change, and they are going to implement the change and lead us into success. Without the buy-in of our people and without making manufacturing better for our people, we are failing. People will always remain the center of our decision-making.”
Rusk added that Bosch’s continued success with Industry 4.0 can be attributed to the fact that the company applies the idea to itself and its customers. One of the 270 Bosch plants worldwide is selected to test a given idea, where it is either proven out or deemed a failure. Once a theory is successful, it is rolled out to the rest of the global manufacturing organization and eventually its customers, Rusk said.
It’s all about lessons learned, said Bosch’s connected industry consultant Andreas Hassold. Here, you must look for early adopters and volunteers to drive the change. “We put a lot of emphasis on innovation from the bottom-up,” Hassold said. “We’ve put structures in place to harness our associates’ innovations and ideas.”
Bosch has more than 7 million connected devices around the world but not every project has been a success. For example, said Industry 4.0 Project Manager North Fabian Borowski, an early failure came when they failed to consult the people running the machinery. They weren’t ready to use these highly connected applications.
“We didn’t take the time to actually go talk to the machine operator, the maintenance person, to the janitor to find out what they were seeing from their perspective in the operation — again, going back to the human in the piece,” Rusk added. “That’s something we have to keep reminding ourselves every time we engage in a new Industry 4.0 addition, whether it’s in one of our plants or with one of our customers.”
“What we have seen since then is a dramatic increase in great ideas actually being generated from our own plant floors,” Rusk continued, adding that something like 2,500 new ideas come from that particular plant’s floor operators per year. “They feel they’re part of the i4 journey. They feel like they have an ownership stake. Now, that’s a dramatic uptake. We didn’t see that in a lot of our other plants over the years. I think that’s a big lesson that we learned.”
Mary C. Gannon
On Twitter @DW_marygannon