Jayson Myers warns Canada missing Industry 4.0 boat
A new Industrial Revolution is sweeping through the manufacturing world, and a leading advocate for Canada's manufacturers warns the country is missing its chance to be a leader in the new order.
Jayson Myers, president of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, told a McMaster University forum Thursday that the movement dubbed Industry 4.0 is about more than using new technology to boost production efficiency.
Industry 4.0 is about embracing new methods, such as using the Internet to connect machines that give managers the ability to monitor what's happening on their shop floors.
"This isn't just about new products and processes, it's about thinking about new ways of manufacturing," Myers said. "The smart companies see this impact coming. They see intense competition that's not going away."
Canada's failure, he said in an interview, is in not developing a national strategy for the future of manufacturing that incorporates new ideas.
"It's about much more than just the technology, much more than the sensors and actuators and software and Internet connections," he said. "In my mind it's all about: how do you create value in manufacturing? We're doing lots of things in Canada, but we just don't have a co-ordinated approach."
Much of the new technology driving Industry 4.0 has come from Germany.
Detlef Zuhlke, director of Germany's Centre for Artificial Intelligence, said the push for new manufacturing technology is driven by factors such as shorter product life spans and the demand for shorter delivery and production times. Many of those problems can be overcome, he said, through new ways of using technology.
Within 10 years, Zuhlke said production machines that "talk" directly to customers and suppliers will be available, giving forward-thinking companies a previously unknown flexibility.
"In the future, our industrial world is going to be a much more connected world," he told his audience of engineers and business owners.
In an interview, Zuhlke said researchers are close to solving some of the technical issues slowing the arrival of the New World. What isn't getting enough attention, however, is finding answers to security questions.
"What remains is what is good for the business model and who can make money from all this," he said. "I think you will see practical uses of this in two to three years but in a broader sense, I would say in about 10 years companies will integrate it in a factory."
Myers and Zuhlke both said security is going to be a critical piece of new Internet-based systems.
"We have to solve questions of security and business models," Zuhlke said. "Those are the more crucial questions to me."
Failing to adequately secure new systems leaves them open to attacks such as the famous 2009 Stuxnet invasion that crippled Iran's growing nuclear program.
It has also been an issue in the more recent dispute between Apple Inc. and the FBI in the U.S.
The law enforcement bureau wanted Apple to create a "back door" that would allow it open a terrorist cellphone.
The company refused on the fear such a way in could be used by criminals to steal personal information.
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