Step by Step towards Industry 4.0: The Swisscom A3 Method

The next industrial evolution, the Industry 4.0, will have a major impact on the manufacturing industry, since it is about the digital transformation in and of industrial markets. Any company not being able to perform this transformation will have difficulties to survive in the long-term. In the blog series IIoT@Swisscom, it is revealed how Swisscom supports and accompanies the industry on that digital journey.

What is IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a network of physical objects that collect and transmit data using embedded electronics, sensors, actuators and wired-/wireless connectivity. The possibility of sensing and controlling an object remotely creates opportunities for direct integration of the physical world into IT-systems, resulting in economic benefit.

IoT has been experiencing a significant push in the recent years, with different studies predicting a revenue of up to $6.2 trillion in 2025 [1,2]. This is due to the maturity level and availability of various technologies, facilitating IoT deployments at an affordable cost. But the term Internet of Things has already been created in the late 90s and even two decades before, in the 70s, first IoT concepts for the energy sector were presented [3].

Industrial-IoT and Industry 4.0

Industrial-IoT (IIoT) refers to the industrial subset of IoT, often encountered in the manufacturing industry. Continuous data from the production line, machine data, but also additional sensor data, combined with the condition data of the produce help to autonomize the production and the logistic processes.

Together with Big Data and cloud technologies, IIoT is one of the main enablers for Industry 4.0. All processes in a company, from production to sales, are interconnected and are sharing relevant information, steadily improving the business processes. But Industry 4.0 is beyond vertical integration, it is even horizontal spanning over different companies. Industry 4.0 will improve productivity, exploit analytics for innovation, transform workforce and finally create new business models, resulting in increased revenues [4,5].

The Swisscom A3 Method

To support the manufacturing industry on their journey towards IIoT and Industry 4.0, the IIoT team of Swisscom developed the A3 method, which consists of the three steps Acquire, Analyze and Act. This method helps to innovate/improve the production, the product and the business model, transforming the company towards Industry 4.0.

Acquire

Acquire is the process of facilitating your production and/or product to share business relevant data with the help of IIoT. The shared data is sent to a centralized system, allowing to manage the production/product from a single point of user interface. From the centralized system, the data can be further transferred to any other system.

Analyze

The acquired data is analyzed using analytic tools and models to gain business relevant insights. The data is enriched with information from other sources, such as weather data, and patterns are extracted that reveal unknown facts about the production and/or the product. A possible insight could be how to improve the next generation of products in order to reduce the production cost, but at the same time offering the customers a better experience.

Act

Based on the gained insights, concrete actions can be taken to increase the added value. For example, if the gained insight is that the failure of a specific machine component can jam the production for a longer period, using predictive maintenance for that component can reduce the downtime significantly. Furthermore, scheduling the maintenance to a time frame where the machine is not used leads to zero downtime and higher output.

For each of the steps described above, Swisscom has a broad portfolio of building blocks and vast expertise. For more information refer to the following website: Swisscom IoT


References

[1] Global IoT Forecasts; Machina Research
[2] Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy; McKinsey Global Institute
[3] Marek Rabe, Solution Architect IIoT & Industry 4.0; Swisscom
[4] Driving Unconventional Growth through the Industrial Internet of Things; Accenture Technology
[5] Industrie 4.0 und Digitale Wirtschaft; Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie