How to Achieve Quick Wins in Early Industry 4.0 Projects

How to Achieve Quick Wins in Early Industry 4.0 Projects
Author: Tom Rombouts, 4.0 Director, I-care Group
Date Posted: 08.30.22
Smart factory

Achieving Quick Wins in Early Industry 4.0 Projects

Since the concept of Industry 4.0 arose in Germany more than a decade ago, advocates have been pointing out its potential. With its focus on digitized processes and operations, it is a cornerstone of digital transformation.

The pandemic, which saw digitally-enabled companies pivot and adapt to its challenges more successfully than non-digitalized firms, was a “wake-up call” for those who were lagging in their efforts. Yet, even early adopters continue to struggle with their Industry 4.0 adoptions. There are many reasons why this has happened. Impediments range from cybersecurity and cyber threats to outmoded data architectures and infrastructure.

At I-care, we have worked with dozens of companies that were struggling with their Industry 4.0 projects. In many cases, we found an additional barrier — loss of interest among leadership and staff due to the complexity of the effort.

Change is hard, but moving to a new system driven by unfamiliar technologies takes vision and courage. To help our clients break down the barriers to adoption, we identified a key element of Industry 4.0 — data — that they could focus on first to fine-tune their decision-making process and prepare them to achieve “quick wins.”

Data-Supported Decision Making: a Cornerstone of Industry 4.0 and Any Reliability Improvement

Despite the very large quantity of data available in modern machinery, sensor data and other sources, many organizations still are not leveraging it successfully. At I-care, we discovered that we could help clients achieve two goals by using data as the key element in the exploratory phase of our reliability improvement initiatives.

  1. Exploring the value of the data for decision making, central to the success of Industry 4.0.
  2. “Kick-start” their Industry 4.0 efforts by finding easy improvement projects.

There are many generic sources from which information can be harvested for identifying your next reliability project. These sources include sensor data, machine data, maintenance reports and more. To provide some insight for your own projects, the following are three examples of how we have leveraged the power of data sources and the insight they can deliver as part of our Maintenance 4.0 efforts.

  • Vibration-based failure data collected from more than 800 industrial sites: By looking at the complete failure history of the entire I-care vibration analysis customer base, we can highlight what are the “generic” improvement areas. We’re able to tailor the findings based on different requests. Are you interested in an analysis for your industry vertical — or for certain equipment types? Our dataset can provide the answers!
  • Customer-specific failure data harvested from a CMMS: Extract information from your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) database to refine and identify the projects that will provide the most immediate and substantial ROI. Such an effort requires extensive data mining most easily achieved with an automated data mining tool.

Such a tool allows you to identify the bad actors in your technical installation and indicate which are the core problems impacting your performance KPI’s.

Author’s note: CMMS data mining for Industry 4.0 projects is one of I-care’s core areas of expertise. If you would like further input on this specialized effort, give us a call.

  • Asset-Specific Failure Analysis: Identify specific assets that have higher than expected failure or unplanned downtime rates, then take a deep dive into those assets. At I-care we have developed DOFA (Data Oriented Failure Analysis) which will identify which data sources should be used for efficient prediction of different failure modes of the selected equipment. This is an essential step in launching a successful 4.0 project. This approach will be covered soon in the next blog post.

After business leaders have identified their highest-priority use cases, the project team can group and prioritize the initiatives to identify the “quick wins.” These tactics are proven success factors in encouraging leadership and stakeholder buy-in — and in collecting support and funding for program expansion.

If you want to learn more on this topic, please connect directly with Tom on LinkedIn at 

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