Over the last few years, the relationship between service providers and customers has become far more complex. Service providers now need to allow for excellence not only in product quality and usability, but also throughout the overall purchasing and service experience. In other words, It’s not just what’s on offer, but how it is being offered.
The expectations of personalization within the consumer environment spread across the board – every major industry, from medicine, to finance, to marketing, has acknowledged that this requirement is effectively a need. Even within an industrial setting, the technology end-users are the consumers (industrial engineers, production managers, quality control personnel, mechanics, production, assembly line workers etc.), and have similar requirements.
How Consumer Requirements can be Overlooked in Industry 4.0
Changing habits is hard. To effectively change, we need to understand the value that making the change will bring, and that the cost of transformation is lower than the cost of stagnation. Take the traditional industrial company silo structure, for example, which tends to separate consumers from the supply (IT workers and integrators). However, products aiming to serve the need of the consumer must take into account their specific needs, in terms of context and environment. For the industrial user-consumer, a user-friendly customer approach needs to be developed, comprising customized solutions and technologies.
This article in the Harvard Business Review indicates that implementing technology such as augmented reality (AR) wearables for workers can result in a dramatic increase in productivity. General Electric were apparently convinced enough to provide AR wearables for GE technicians, which resulted in a 34% improvement in the technician’s first-time performance when wiring a wind turbine’s control box, while guided by line-of-sight instructions overlaid on the job by an AR headset, over using the company’s current process.
Israeli Companies Aligning with the Needs of Workers
There are several companies in the Israeli Industry 4.0 sector who are aligned with worker’s needs:
Mobideo offers a patented software solution that digitializes and optimizes industrial services throughout the entire asset life cycle by converging IoT, big data, cloud, mobile, and analytics technologies. One example of how Mobideo enables a connected workforce is seen through its digital Exception Based Surveillance (EBS) solution for Hess, an oil company. It allows Hess to concentrate on the highest value tasks, and removes unnecessary data entry, which maximizes scarce resources in the strained Oil & Gas economy. By reducing the number of field personnel necessary to operate, Hess sees increased safety, reduced field operations costs, improved management visibility, increased production of oil wells, ensured compliance with processes and best practices, elimination of data input errors, increased asset up time.
Next Plus is a performance support, industrial IoT, paperless platform for production and maintenance that uses IoT technology to integrate human labor with Industry 4.0. In a project for a leading Israeli company in the industrial sector of Aerospace and Defense, Next Plus was integrated by the company as the sole shop floor management system. Making Next Plus not only a single point of entry for the integration workers (who were accustomed to interchanging several enterprise systems), but also centralizing Next Plus as a single source of truth of the production line.
WonderLogix is a development platform for industrial automation that replaces the need for coding by engineers and machine operators; a software solution for both expert and non-expert users, allowing them to define industrial processes using human language without needing to know the secrets of controllers programming. In a project to upgrade half of a wastewater treatment facility in Clyde, Ohio, WonderLogix’s intuitive platform was used to design the process, and automatically generate the controller code, removing the need for any outsourcing to an external sub-contractor. Keeping the work in-house is a huge benefit for not only the engineering phase, but even more for the operational and maintenance phase, as it will keep the Wastewater Department independent of sub-contractors and able to quickly respond to any malfunction or new requirement.
Industry 4.0 solutions mainly focus on automation, robotics, preventive technologies, and data analysis. However, it is important not to neglect the human factor in the equation – namely, the end user. Technology implementation needs to speak to the real needs for workers on the ground that are easy to use and implement.
For more information about innovative Israeli Industry 4.0 companies, see Start-Up Nation Finder.