Industry 4 revolution and illogical IT spread
In most organizations, the IT network covers all the functions outside the shop floor – Accounts, HR, Stores, Sales, etc. Managers have accurate and up-to-date data on all these functions, and can take quick decisions in these areas. The shop floor, however, is an island in this sea of IT. You’ll find a handful of computers on the shop floor, and dozens of them in the departments supporting the shop floor. This is illogical, and is exactly what the Industry 4 revolution fixes.
The shop floor is where money is actually made, and all other departments exist to support the shop floor. There is a massive investment in machines that produce parts, and we sell these parts to make money for the organization. We need to ensure that this investment in machines is recovered to the fullest extent, by putting in systems to improve efficiency.
Managers need accurate and up-to-date data on what is happening on the shop floor – how many parts have been produced, the efficiency level of each machine, the extent of losses in terms of machine downtime, part rejections, any big problems requiring immediate decisions, etc. None of this is however available. It can only be enabled by extensive use of IT, right upto each individual machine. This is what Industry 4.0 is designed to do. Machines have been around for ages, and so have computers. They have never spoken to each other.
Industry 4.0 connects the office IT to the shop floor and to the machines. Software and hardware that does machine monitoring (or machine monitoring AND control) transmits data to and from machines to central database.
Examples: Supply chain software can reorder raw material and despatch finish goods based on production data from machines, production scheduling software can continuously readjust schedules based on the status on the shop, HR software can pay operators based on their efficiency and their presence or absence at the machine, sales software can determine delivery dates based on live production status.
Simple rule: Money is made on machines, so machines must be an integral part of your IT network.
Peacocks – not as stupid as a I thought
I saw a peacock doing its ritual of trying to attract a mate near Delhi some time ago. The ritual consisted of spreading his stunning feathers, and shaking them around. I didn’t see any peahens around, and thought that the guy was wasting his time. Turns out I was wrong – he wasn’t wasting his time.
The quivering feathers emit a low-frequency sound inaudible to human ears. Depending on whether the peacock wants to attract females from far away or nearby, it changes the sound by shaking different parts of the feathers. So this peacock of mine knew that there were no hens around, but was using the sound to attract any that were hanging around out of sight. The peahen presumably comes over to check out the hot guy who’s making all that noise. Peahens judge the suitability of a peacock as a mate by the length, width and color of the tail.
The tail is only there during the mating season, and is shed every year after the season. So if you see anyone selling peacock feathers in markets (common all over India), rest assured that the feathers were donated voluntarily by some peacocks, which were not bumped off. By the way, killing a peacock (it being India’s national bird and all) attracts a jail term of upto 7 years.