Implementing Shop Floor IT for Industry 4.0
The fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, is a paradigm shift that is currently changing our society and the way we produce things. The first industrial revolution started at the end of the 18th century and was enabled by mechanisation and steam power. The spread of electricity enabled assembly lines and mass production during the first half of the 20th century, which was the second industrial revolution. Industry 3.0 came with the invention of the computer with an increase of automation such as programmable machines and robots. The fourth revolution is upcoming and is supposed to increase productivity and flexibility to the same extent as the previous three. The idea is to utilise recent advances in information technologies and the Internet to interconnect machines, tools, equipment, sensors, and people into decentralised intelligent systems that can sense and adapt to the environment.
The term Industry 4.0 was introduced 2011 by the German government as a national programme to boost research and development of the manufacturing industry. Many countries with, including Sweden, has since then started similar initiatives. The aim is to prevent further outsourcing of production to low-cost countries by improving competitiveness with increased automation and flexibility. However, the implementation is slow and many manufacturing companies have only started to computerise and are far from digitalised. There are many challenges in terms of technology, people, and organisation. Many manufacturing companies do not know how to start the process of digitalisation, they lack the knowledge and the organisation.
To implement a production environment according to the Industry 4.0 vision the manufacturing organisation and its view on technologies need to change. Part of this change is to design an information technology architecture that enables interconnection of machines, equipment, tools, and people on the shop floor. The aim of this thesis is to aid decision makers in the manufacturing industry to implement a shop floor IT according to the Industry 4.0 paradigm. This was achieved with the design science approach, which means that the researcher has implemented different artefacts (technologies) that have been evaluated. The work is based on six studies that connect to real problems found in the industry today. These studies are presented and discussed with respect to three research questions: important aspects, technological implementations, and effects. Results include concrete and practical examples of how to implement IT artefacts for the shop floor. Furthermore, it highlights the complexity of the problem and shows the need for a holistic and incremental approach.