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Industry 4.0 Maturity Index provides a coherent plan

Industry 4.0 Maturity Index provides a coherent plan

Developers, designers and users hope that Industry 4.0 will streamline processes, boost the efficiency of capacity utilisation and enable them to fulfil individual customer wishes faster. However, many companies still lack a coherent plan for Industry 4.0 implementation. The Industry 4.0 Maturity Index helps companies to approach their goals step by step, as Dr Bertolt Gärtner of TÜV SÜD ATISAE explains.

So far, there have been 317 reference cases of successful Industry 4.0 applications in Germany. But this is not enough – an opinion shared by the German government. According to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie, BMWi), technological and economic uncertainties are among the factors causing German companies to hesitate in this context. Some automation companies use Industry 4.0 only in selected areas of their organisations. However, in order to unlock all the opportunities offered by connected and smart production, efforts need to be extended to include logistics and customer service.

To address these challenges, Deutsche Akademie der Technikwissenschaften (acatech), that is a German National Academy of Science and Engineering, has developed the Industry 4.0 Maturity Index. The index was developed by a consortium of research institutions working under the umbrella of acatech. TÜV SÜD also contributed its expert knowledge in the field of industrial IT security. The objective was to provide companies with a tool that enabled Industry 4.0 to be introduced in manageable steps. The tool provides manufacturers of automation systems with a solid basis and certainty for their investments and planning. The model covers the entire value chain and focuses on the defined individual benefits for the company.

More than digitalisation

The index is a systematic guideline, supporting companies in the integration and continuous improvement of their IT and communication systems. To this end, it defines six successive stages:

  1. Computerisation: While the use of IT and process automation has already become the standard, companies still use insular information systems at this stage.
  2. Connectivity: Once the individual components are connected, companies have reached the maturity stage of connectivity and implemented digitalisation as defined in this guideline. However, they have not yet achieved full integration between information and operational technologies.
  3. Visibility: At this stage, companies start to use sensors for real-time recording of conditions and processes. They produce a digital model of production, a “digital shadow” that shows what is happening at any given point in time.
  4. Transparency: Once companies use the digital shadow to identify and understand interactions, they have reached stage 4. To do so, they need to interpret the recorded data in the relevant contexts by applying engineering knowledge. Big data applications are deployed in parallel to business application systems, such as ERP – or MES – systems, to provide a common platform for extensive data analysis.
  5. Predictive capacity: To simulate scenarios and evaluate them in terms of their likelihood and consequences, the digital shadow is projected into the future. As a result, companies can anticipate future developments and make the necessary decisions.
  6. Adaptability: At the highest stage of maturity, the IT systems will make these decisions independently. At this stage, Industry 4.0 has been realised in full. IT systems initiate the necessary alignment measures automatically and without delay. The extent to which IT systems will be allowed to act autonomously depends on two aspects: first, on the complexity of the decision, and second, on the cost-benefit ratio of automated versus human actions.

Analysis throughout all levels

The index has a modular structure and covers five functional areas: development, production, logistics, services, and marketing and sales. However, Industry 4.0 is more than the mere connection of cyber-physical systems (CPS). A company’s corporate culture is equally important to its organisational structure. The index accordingly defines four structural areas: “Resources” include a company’s workforce and their competencies, equipment, facilities, tools and products. “Information systems” refer to socio-technical systems in which people and technology provide and process data. “Organisational structure” covers rules and structures which control a company’s internal and external relationships. “Corporate culture”, finally, refers to a company’s value system, such as its workforce’s willingness to accept and actively shape change.

Application of the Maturity Index covers three phases. The starting-point comprises analysis of the current maturity stage. Questionnaires, on-site factory inspections and workshops provide an overview of the current state of digitalisation. Phase 2 involves the definition of specific goals. This includes consideration of both the use of digital processes and corporate strategy. A gap analysis identifies the capabilities and resources still needed to achieve these goals. In the last phase, the experts develop a digital roadmap to build up these capabilities. Actions are prioritised on the basis of a cost-benefit matrix.

What makes the Maturity Index so useful is that every single action delivers measurable benefits and the process is traceable at all times. On top of that, a team of external experts support companies by providing their individual know-how along every step of the process.

IT security according to IEC 62443

In 2016, over 50% of industrial companies quoted data-security requirements among the main obstacles to the use of Industry 4.0. After all, connection of IT systems also involves certain security risks. However, having available and secure data is critical for connected systems. Instead of saving data related to products, orders and customers in separate systems, use is made of a shared data platform, a “single source of truth”. A resilient IT infrastructure is needed for analysis and provision of the data. This means the system must be able to maintain its basic services even in the case of severe malfunctions. Skilled experts and standards are important aids in this context.

The industrial standard IEC 62433 addressing the IT security of networks and systems is critical in this context. The standard covers the requirements for “industrial automation and control systems” which are needed to ensure the reliable and secure operation of automated systems and infrastructures.

The standard focuses on measures for maintaining IT security in addition to measures for aligning IT security to changing conditions. This enables developers, designers and system integrators to identify weaknesses in their instrumentation and control systems and effectively protect these systems. TÜV SÜD is one of the first suppliers to offer testing and certification for manufacturers according to lEC 62443-4-1, and for system integrators according to lEC 62443-2-4.

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