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Making Incremental Progress in Industry 4.0 with a PoC

by Omar Aziz Ahmed
9 min read

In Industry 4.0, the key to success is incremental growth - a journey marked by small victories and setbacks that shape the path forward. Each incremental step is far from perfect but rather a calculated move forward with learnings along the way. This journey is not just about the tech; it's also about the process and, most importantly, about the individuals, the champions who are drawn to how technology can solve real-world problems. I like to use the term “industrial innovator.

What is an Industrial Innovator?

The industrial innovator is the sherpa of the Industry 4.0 journey – a visionary drawn to the potential of technology as a problem-solving tool. For them, the allure lies in understanding how innovations like MQTT and the Unified Namespace can reshape processes, improve operations, save money, and create new revenue streams. The industrial innovator must build a solid innovation strategy, find the right problem to solve, and then find the team to climb the mountain with.

Industrial innovators have a difficult task as they try to recruit additional champions within the company, choose foundational technologies that will scale as the project grows, and focus on use cases that will show business value both immediately and long-term. I find that with the many manufacturing customers I’ve worked with over the years, the most successful had a powerful champion with the right mandate from management to move the IIoT deployment forward. Most importantly, the industrial innovator is not thwarted by setbacks. They regroup and consider different routes to achieve the goal.

Valuable Learnings from POCs

Mistakes, often misconstrued as obstacles, are essential to digital transformation. I’ve seen many companies start a Proof of Concept (PoC) and fail for various reasons; from lack of stakeholder buy-in to disparate OT and IT systems to resource constraints. A failed Industry 4.0 PoC isn't a roadblock; it's a classroom where lessons are learned and insights are gained. This isn't about instant triumphs; it's about moving forward, investing, and learning. 

For instance, one thing we encourage our customers to do during the PoC phase at HiveMQ is load test their MQTT deployment before putting it into production. Many customers think a small PoC is enough, but a simulated environment can allow them to test up to millions of clients and messages so they know how the deployment will behave when they scale. These learnings are invaluable and can ensure success.

Think of concepts like MQTT and Unified Namespace: they weren't overnight sensations but products of persistent efforts, community collaboration, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. The Industry 4.0 journey mirrors the gradual rise, with a series of small wins and losses eventually leading to progress.

From PoC to Progress

Let’s consider an example. A pharmaceutical company is building out their system architecture for a new plant. They will have an easier process than other pharmaceutical companies with 20 or 30 plants because this company, let’s call them Zynchroma, is new and this is only their second facility.

The innovation team has been doing a lot of research, reading content online from companies like HiveMQ, and they feel they have a great grasp on how to deploy their IIoT projects. The challenge is that the management team is risk-averse, so the innovation team needs to make sure they are taking off manageable size bits to chew and showing ROI as they go. They determine an initial application that solves a business problem - digitizing their records for regulatory compliance purposes. It is essential for the company to improve their regulatory compliance, and digitizing their processes will fit the bill so it will be easy for them to get stakeholder buy-in to test out at PoC.

The solution they will build revolves around setting up a Unified Namespace, a single source of truth for all data. They will deploy one MQTT platform on-premise, sending data to AWS for further processing. They’ll start on just one production line, reporting all data for compliance. Once the Unified Namespace is working and a hub and spoke system is in place, they can show how easy it is to add another line. And another. ROI is already clear since compliance issues stop production so before they know it they’ll be ready to scale up.

Experimentation Becomes Implementation

Calculated and educated “risks” are the currency of innovation. Well-executed PoCs provide learnings and a path forward. Each trial, be it a triumph or a hiccup, adds to the knowledge bank, shaping the path for future Industry 4.0 endeavors.

As I work with customers, taking the first step is the hardest part. They want to transform, they want to embrace Industry 4.0, and they want to do it now. But patience is key and I see the most success from those who execute extremely well on a PoC, start to make just one small data-driven decision, and then slowly add use cases, production lines, and ultimately plants for exponential ROI.  

Contact us at HiveMQ if you’re ready to start your journey.

Omar Aziz Ahmed

Omar Aziz Ahmed, Enterprise Account Executive at HiveMQ, leverages over a decade of technology sales expertise to address complex customer challenges. With the last 7 years dedicated to industrial software, focusing on IIoT, Digital Transformation, and Industry 4.0, Omar plays a pivotal role at HiveMQ. His current focus is to help enterprises adopt MQTT to accelerate transformative business outcomes.

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