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Carles Roig reveals the secrets of industry 4.0 development
Industry 4.0 is beginning to be seen not as the future but as a reality that is necessary in a changing world, along with technological developments, to ensure competitiveness and sustainability. On 7 March at ESADE Madrid, professor and researcher Carles Roig (MIM 87) explained his views of this subject in “Industry 4.0: new forms of intelligence, knowledge and management skills.
This conference in the Refresher Programme was presented by Silvia Losada, director of ESADE Alumni Madrid, who highlighted the speaker’s hard work at ESADE and his research into the industrial challenges facing society.
In the introduction to his talk, Carles Roig did not focus on technologies. He opted to approach the issue from a completely different angle because, he explained, “although it may seem obvious, industry 4.0 is about industry, nothing else. It’s about re-evolution, not revolution.
The contribution of industry to the West’s overall GDP has dwindled in recent decades. Lower costs have been sought elsewhere and processes such as outsourcing and offshoring have emerged. “We suddenly realized, explained Roig, “that we had gone too far as regards a sector that has so many benefits for national economies. This sector, for example, enables inflation to be controlled best, consolidates the balance of foreign trade, has the closest links to innovation and makes the greatest contribution to environmental management.
Once the alarm was raised, in 2005 some countries began to rethink their industrial models. These models are evolving on the basis of techniques developed successfully by digital companies, such as appropriate data management, customer orientation, connecting demand and supply, and straightforward management because, as he said, “new types of industry call for new types of intelligence.
And thus industry 4.0 was born. It is based on three cornerstones that are not new but which are accelerating and making an impact thanks to the technological revolution: Big Data, the Internet of Things (connectivity) and add-on technologies (robotics, etc). The aim of these three elements is to improve efficiency, control supply chains better and create new business models. “Things that weren’t possible before are now driving us from theory to practice.
On the basis of these cornerstones and aims, industry 4.0 needs a series of skills that involve learning to interact, above all, with the customer. This interaction requires those involved to be agile and flexible and able to respond to change. In addition, this is all against a backdrop of innovation in all areas and aspects. Finally, Carles Roig mentioned the skill he considers most important, “If we learn to collaborate but do not learn to create relationships, industry 4.0 is nothing.
After explaining the previous concepts, the speaker wondered how these skills could be developed. The first dilemma stems from having to choose between strategy and customer. “There is obviously, he said, “a great deal of grey area between them, but one must know how to adapt to the customer’s outlook, one must focus on the customer. The truth, said Roig, was that “it’s very difficult to set the customer at the centre, making things simpler.
In order for industry 4.0 to progress towards this customer-oriented strategy, it must, according to Roig, “create solutions tailored to needs. This makes it essential for the company’s design and governance to be focused on the value chain, the supply chain, with new criteria for supplier selection, management and collaboration.
Industry 4.0 would, therefore, be based on several basic pillars. The first one consists of industrial regionalisation based on experience, tradition and leadership in certain sectors. The second one is that industry should provide high quality and high value added and be located in the vicinity, because intensive manufacturing continues to look for low-cost locations. The third one is for members of the supply chain to develop new attributes in response to a complex environment and globalisation opportunities.
The spheres of action of industry 4.0 are focussing increasingly on clean energy, intelligent transport systems, sustainable production and consumption, the sustainable use of natural resources, and smart homes and cities.
Carles Roig suggested several ways of developing industry 4.0. Companies wishing to move in that direction must define the scope and meaning of this change by assessing their maturity, creating a workplace conducive to trial and error, defining the competences (both in-house and those of suppliers) to be developed, recruiting and managing multidisciplinary talent, creating an optimal network of suppliers and partners with tried and tested technologies, adopting skills to manage this network and always carrying out pilot tests to validate the results prior to systematisation.
Finally, the speaker reminded the audience that people are essential. “The adoption of models entailing industry 4.0 or digital competences calls for leaders and managers with commonplace skills who work hand in hand with their teams and have their feet on the ground.