The Connected Factory (Part 2/3)

by Ralf Keu­per

Many peop­le still con­si­der the smart, con­nec­ted fac­to­ry as some­thing to emer­ge at some time in the future. Howe­ver, as our co-exhi­bi­tors at IDS Vir­tu­al Expo demons­tra­te, such fac­to­ries have beco­me rea­li­ty alrea­dy. The enter­pri­ses are pre­sen­ting use cases in which novel data-sharing con­cepts revo­lu­tio­ni­ze our tra­di­tio­nal noti­on of a fac­to­ry.

This second part of our series deals with novel busi­ness, pay­ment, and finan­cing models that can be crea­ted and estab­lished in the wake of the con­nec­ted fac­to­ry.

New busi­ness, pay­ment, and finan­cing models

Increa­sed elec­tro­nic inter­con­nec­tion of pro­duc­tion pro­ces­ses has led to the emer­gence of new busi­ness and pay­ment models. Ins­tead of purcha­sing machi­nes, manu­fac­tu­rers today tend to buy machi­ne per­for­mance (‘pay as you use’). Ano­t­her pay­ment model is ‘pay as you earn’, allo­wing manu­fac­tu­rers to be fle­xi­ble with regard to install­ment pay­ments, depen­ding on the degree of capa­ci­ty to which the machi­ne has actual­ly been uti­li­zed.

Besi­des new types of busi­ness and pay­ment models, new types of finan­cing models are beco­m­ing increa­singly popu­lar. Rese­ar­chers of ibi rese­arch (Uni­ver­si­ty of Regens­burg) and Fraun­ho­fer IESE (Fraun­ho­fer Insti­tu­te for Expe­ri­men­tal Soft­ware Engi­nee­ring), who have coined the term ‘Finan­ce 4.0’, have deve­lo­ped a con­cept named DFI4.0. The two part­ners are plan­ning to initia­te a con­sor­ti­um pro­ject for estab­li­shing an elec­tro­nic mar­ket­place media­ting bet­ween inves­tors and finan­ci­al ser­vice pro­vi­ders (e.g. banks, lea­sing com­pa­nies, invest­ment funds, insuran­ce com­pa­nies) on the one side and manu­fac­tu­ring com­pa­nies see­king new ways of finan­cing pro­duc­tion on the other side. In this sce­n­a­rio, digi­tal twins of machi­nes pro­vi­de inves­tors with machi­ne data they need to view in order to make an invest­ment decisi­on. The over­all goal of the pro­ject is to estab­lish a digi­tal eco­sys­tem made up of inves­tors, finan­ci­al ser­vice pro­vi­ders, manu­fac­tu­ring com­pa­nies, machi­ne manu­fac­tu­rers, regu­la­tors, and addi­tio­nal ser­vice pro­vi­ders (e.g. for machi­ne main­ten­an­ce or logistics). To con­nect the shop floor and the cloud, solu­ti­ons such as the one deve­lo­ped by Cybus can be used.

High-qua­li­ty data brought tog­e­ther in a com­mon data pool

The data eco­no­my crea­tes value if dif­fe­rent types of data, com­ing from mul­ti­ple par­ties and dif­fe­rent sources, is aggre­ga­ted, pro­ces­sed and refi­ned. This leads to a com­mon pool of high-qua­li­ty data, from which every par­ti­ci­pa­ting com­pa­ny can gain new, busi­ness rele­vant insights with the help of machi­ne lear­ning. As a result, com­pa­nies can deve­lop and offer novel pro­duc­ts and ser­vices. Fur­ther­mo­re, it is pos­si­ble to offer the data for sale via data mar­ket­pla­ces. Such mar­ket­pla­ces are made up of mul­ti­ple micro-ser­vices run­ning wit­hin a secu­re envi­ron­ment.

When it comes to sharing data and estab­li­shing a com­mon data pool, data qua­li­ty is cri­ti­cal. If data comes in dif­fe­rent for­mats, and if sys­tems lack inter­ope­ra­bi­li­ty, the need for manu­al rework is gro­wing signi­fi­cant­ly, which makes the ent­i­re endea­vor extre­me­ly error-pro­ne. The data mar­ket­place com­po­nent of the IDS Refe­rence Archi­tec­tu­re makes sure all data sha­red and exch­an­ged across the IDS eco­sys­tem is deli­ve­r­ed over a cer­ti­fied IDS Con­nec­tor. This ensu­res that data ori­gi­na­tes from trust­worthy sources and can­not be mani­pu­la­ted over the cour­se of a tran­sac­tion. Sharing and exch­an­ging high-qua­li­ty data wit­hin a secu­re envi­ron­ment is key for the data eco­no­my to pro­du­ce suc­cess sto­ries. One such suc­cess sto­ry is ADVANEO.

A pro­per and reli­able tech­ni­cal infra­st­ruc­tu­re for the con­nec­ted fac­to­ry

In order to ensu­re data sover­eig­n­ty with regard to indus­tri­al data being exch­an­ged across an inte­gra­ted European data eco­sys­tem, rely­ing on ope­ra­ting sys­tems ‘made in Euro­pe’ is mis­si­on cri­ti­cal. Euro­pe must by any means avo­id beco­m­ing depen­dent on ope­ra­ting sys­tems deve­lo­ped in the US or Asia (as is the case in the busi­ness-to-con­su­mer domain) if it wants to build up a secu­re and trust­worthy European data eco­sys­tem for the busi­ness-to-busi­ness domain.

Cur­r­ent­ly a num­ber of ope­ra­ting sys­tems are being deve­lo­ped and tested in various pro­jec­ts across Euro­pe (e.g. FabOS). Data sover­eig­n­ty pre­sup­po­ses that sen­si­ti­ve data can be pro­ces­sed and stored secu­re­ly and trans­par­ent­ly. With this goal in mind, Ger­man Edge Cloud (GEC) – tog­e­ther with IoTOS, Rit­t­al, and Bosch Con­nec­ted Indus­try – has deve­lo­ped Onci­te, an all-in-one indus­tri­al-edge data cen­ter. In the auto­mo­ti­ve indus­try, Onci­te is used to make sure data can be secu­re­ly exch­an­ged bet­ween car manu­fac­tu­rers and top-tier sup­pliers across the ent­i­re value chain. A simi­lar approach is pur­sued by Smart Con­nec­ted Sup­plier Net­work (SCSN), a Dutch field lab.

Com­bi­ned with GAIA‑X and IDS, solu­ti­ons like Onci­te and SCSN have the poten­ti­al to con­tri­bu­te to the estab­lish­ment of a European data eco­sys­tem ensu­ring data sover­eig­n­ty for all par­ties invol­ved.

If you want to fol­low our jour­ney sub­scri­be to our IDSA news­let­ter, fol­low #IDS­go­Li­ve on Twit­ter and Lin­kedIn, and come back to this blog fre­quent­ly.