What technology can do today is mind-blowing. Without revealing too much about my age, I’ll just point out that things that we (and especially our kids) now take for granted would have been difficult to even imagine just a few years ago.
Consider this year’s Hannover Messe, for example: Held on April 1-5, the event drew more than 215,000 participants and 6,500 exhibitors from all over the world. Hannover Messe has been evolving over the years, and in 2019 the focus was very much on artificial intelligence and the latest evolution of robots – including guitar- and ping pong-playing robots.
These robots don’t just follow a set of instructions; they react to their environment – a beautiful example of how artificial intelligence is reacting to changing situations in real time. This has huge implications for manufacturers, exemplified by the many other use cases on display. The after-event summary assessed that more than 500 application examples of groundbreaking industry 4.0 solutions and artificial intelligence were present at the event.
One example was from Munich-based 4tiitoo, which uses eye-tracking and artificial intelligence to enable workers to enter data, process checklists, and perform routine warehouse activities hands-free, thus improving the user experience and efficiency. Based on examples like this, I predict that we are going to be blown away with what the artificial intelligence can do going forward.
There seems to be a consensus now that technologies embedded with this type of intelligence are fundamental to digitalization. However, moving from a proof of concept to an enterprise-wide approach requires a strategic way of thinking about applications, data, and technology. We must use experience, operational, and contextual data to draw insights that can be used throughout the entire enterprise process so that the enterprise can become intelligent.
Industrial machinery and components (IM&C) companies have a unique role, as they provide the digitally enabled equipment and machinery to meet the challenges that the world is currently facing: sustainability, waste, recycling, and the need for infrastructure in growing urban centers. These companies can use technology to address global trends such as empowered customers, industry disrupters, and right-shoring of resources, particularly the intelligent technologies that provide real-time responses and agility (such as the robot arm holding a ping pong paddle). This requires that they continue on the road of digitalization, implementing new technologies and business model changes while still providing great experiences.
We believe that IM&C companies must focus on five strategic priorities to achieve this:
- Serving the segment of one
- Digital smart products
- Digital supply chain and smart factories
- Servitization and new business models
They will need to use these innovative technologies to run integrated, automated processes that are connected to the real world and transparent to everyone. Machines in the factory and in the field must talk to each other; interact with people; sense conditions such as weather, traffic, and the experiences of their customers; and make decisions in line with the business objectives. Machines and processes must use data in context to make smart decisions autonomously – while anticipating and solving problems before they have been noticed. This requires applications, technologies, and the data platform – an intelligent enterprise framework. The connection of people, machines, and data across all processes will fundamentally change the way that processes are run and how machines and humans interact together.
What does that look like? At Hannover Messe, SAP highlighted the integration of technologies across the design-to-operate value chain – you can see it demonstrated here for Chancellor Merkel. This showcase will also be featured at Sapphire on the Digital Supply Chain Campus. In addition, at the IM&C topic Station, we will be showing an Intelligent Enterprise for IM&C demo, which also incorporates experience data and lead management into the design-to-operate process. These examples demonstrate the value of integrated, intelligent end-to-end processes.
I hope to see you at SAPPHIRE NOW to see the power of the intelligent enterprise for the industrial machinery and components industry.