The Hannover Messe panelists

Accelerating Industry 4.0 through Transparency and OT/IT Convergence

April 14, 2021
A Hannover Messe panel provides advice for digital transformation.

A fireside chat-style panel during Hannover Messe 2021 discussed ways in which companies are implementing data-driven technologies in their factories.

Executives from Bosch and Estee Lauder provided examples of the technologies they use, best practices on implementing them and how we can leverage other technologies to take charge of our individual Industry 4.0 journeys.

Both companies have a “future-forward” approach to their digital transformation. For Bosch, it’s about standardization, modularity and data. In order to achieve those, they connected with their employees.

“You need to be hyperconnected,” said Bernd Heinrichs, executive VP and chief digital officer of mobility solutions at Bosch. “You need to leverage what you get out of it and put it into data so you can make data-driven decisions.”

Domenic Tota, executive director, global infrastructure engineering at Estee Lauder, explained how a clear governance model could help IT/OT convergence, which also started with its employees.

“We can draw from past experiences when other technologies converged,” he said. “There were a lot of lessons learned from the early days where if people did not collaborate and teams not work together, there were a lot of failures.”

With a process-first strategy, companies can clearly define their outcome, or destination, and define what Industry 4.0 means to them.

“It’s the outcome, the milestones and then how do we measure success,” said Dan Wiggins, vice president of industry solutions group at Cisco.

Of course, with a push toward IT/OT convergence and other network-related systems, the looming security threat always comes to the forefront. And depending on what system is in question, the security problem has to be looked at differently.

“Security is not an afterthought,” said Heinrichs. “Especially when you look into the OT space or the manufacturing space, you see that it’s probably not the same as the IT space…At the end, this is really the end-to-end-type of security solution that you put in place in your enterprise.” 

Opening its own “factory of the future” six months ago in Toronto, security was really important to Estee Lauder, especially since it used augmented reality (AR) to bring its systems online in the middle of the pandemic.

“We are now bringing hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of sensors onto a network that really needs to be secured end-to-end,” said Tota. These devices are connected to the edge, the cloud and other plants as well, which makes IT/OT convergence crucial for network security. “OT and IT really have to collaborate for that security to really come together.”

When it developed its smart manufacturing factory, Estee Lauder worked with its OT group when industrial equipment was being moved to create a “global strategy to ensure we did not need to touch the industrial systems.” This enabled the company to move devices without changing how they functioned on the plant floor. The company also developed what Tota called “standard reference architecture,” which serves sort of like a template for future plants.

A push for modularity has occurred long before the pandemic, and Heinrichs gave some tips on how Bosch implemented a more modular method.

“It’s about going from a big, monolithic approach to a standardized, modular approach,” he said. “In order to make that a feasible approach, you need to find the greatest common denominator to make these types of modules deployable.”

He also explained that in the future, these modular approaches could be available in an app-store structure and could be deployed from there.

“To really drive standardization through modularization—that’s key to us,” Heinrichs said. “No customization, if possible.”

Industry 4.0 trends encapsulate a variety of technologies like machine learning, edge computing, digital twins and network structures like 5G and Wi-Fi 6.

“What we’re seeing happen today is the melding of these quickly,” said Wiggins. “Edge technology has become very important…It’s about the data. Is it collected? Are we going to do it in the cloud, are we going to do it on-prem?”

He also said wireless infrastructure will play a large role in Industry 4.0 execution.

“All of the technologies that are coming out are going to rely on a very robust wireless infrastructure,” Wiggins explained. “We’re looking at next-generation Wi-Fi 6, we’re looking at 5G technologies.”

So, what’s next for Industry 4.0 transformation? One important note from the panel was the transparency of digital transformation. Transparency comes from effective communication—starting with employees—that can build infrastructures to make every company’s digital transformation an easier one.

“We need to give transparency to everything we do so that everybody knows what is going on,” Heinrichs said. 

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