Strategic Planning (SP) & 4.0

Never in his successful life, the Strategic Planning (SP) has faced a challenge like the one the 4.0 may tag to. The promise of a “disruptive technology and so effects” has prompted manufacturing companies to align with it, sometimes in a kind of “hope finding my own Aladdin lamp”, then placing competitive capabilities out reach of everyone.

But is this feeling a sounded one?…Is it time to? … Or is simply the same bewitched melody of the CIM époque? The answer is that it may be true, but depending on.
If selfed both, the CIM and the 4.0 technological features, there are not many essential differences. The 4.0 enjoys more mobility, and more intelligence (through advanced robotics and intensified A.I.), but for impres-sive, they are not key factors to compete. Even no more the CIM was supposed to…
In those days, SP bet on the “full automated and flexible plants”, linking an intended different market strategy with CIM. But, at the end, nothing transcendental came out, because huge investments in integration didn’t pay-back, and also many basic problems in relation with stable, high sigma processes went out of control. The reaction, logical or not, was to “dismantle these factories of the hell and make them very simple”. There, the boom of Japanese manufacturing techniques and their Toyota prime.
What failed, if something?…Unfortunately, the all thing was a flop, because failed the search for the strong potential synergy that the CIM could have deliver to start a leading edge manufacturing strategy, and this is just what we can’t do again when trying to leverage the SP with 4.0. For it we need to identify and exploit the subtle aspects of latest technology that “fit like a glove” with my desirable future organization model, being reliable enough. This is the key point.
In the 4.0, these subtle issues relay on A.I. than must be made easy and close to the front-end manufacturing people, so giving the engineering staff the possibility to train them in advanced comprehensive models of the processes. And also, if conveniently arranged, let the operators and task-oriented people, a sensation of moti-vation with the technology involved in production, because they feel capable of deeply understand it, and get doing evolve.
So, note this. In the CIM we tried to speed up the SPs market strategy straight with the new technology capa-bilities. But my propose with 4.0 is top different; to leverage people that in turn leverage technology, and both together the SP as a dynamically vibrating whole of product and process technology, flexible-distributed organ-ization models, and so at the end, a market radical differentiation.

Javier Borda Elejabarrieta, Dr. I.E., Msc, MBA, President of Sisteplant and Professor of the Bilbao University and URJC.