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Without a doubt, business consultants play a useful role. Their studies can provide a “helicopter view” of trends and innovations that many of would otherwise be unable to see as we go about our daily business. Nevertheless, I am frequently skeptical of such studies. Their methods and informative value are often questionable. Most useful for me are studies that identify contradictions between things like targets and actual values, strategy and implementation, and so forth.
The consultants of McKinsey have just presented such a study: “Industry 4.0 after the initial hype – Where manufacturers are finding value and how they can best capture it”.
The study continues a survey conducted in recent years to highlight developments regarding attitudes regarding Industry 4.0 concepts and their practical implementation. The results reflect the motivation of this blog: most companies see the benefits of Industry 4.0, but have trouble implementing it. The McKinsey consultants identified the most successful implementations wherever companies aimed squarely at the Industry 4.0 toolbox in order to quickly generate concrete competitive and productivity benefits.
What is surprising is that many decision-makers describe their enterprises as “well prepared” for Industry 4.0 (approx. 60% of companies in the U.S., Germany and Japan), but only a few have defined clear responsibilities or set aside the corresponding budgets. This finding also reflects the contradictions reported by many people doing the actual work in the companies.
On a more positive note, the McKinsey study concludes with fairly practical tips for implementing Industry 4.0 step-by-step. It identifies five areas in which companies can benefit particularly quickly from improvements: digital performance management, predictive maintenance, yield/energy/throughput optimization, next-level automation, and digital quality management. It also recommends a clear bottom-up approach to achieving progress in concrete, limited-scale projects that pay off immediately and can then be linked to form a comprehensive Industry 4.0 concept.
My opinion: unusually concrete and absolutely worth reading. Here, once again, is the link to the summary of the McKinsey study.