Digital technology hits the Shop Floor in the 4th Industrial Revolution

“You have to go back to the dotcom boom to match the hype surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) today.” So says Aidan Quilligan, global managing director at Accenture Industrial Software Solutions (AISS), presenting the Cambridge Wireless (CW) Prestigious Lecture, on The 4th Industrial Revolution – when Digital Technology meets the Shop Floor.

The lecture was held at London law firm, Taylor Wessing on February 11 in association with The IET and sponsored by Rohde & Schwarz. As Jeremy Cowan reports, it was followed by a non-attributable open forum chaired by Professor William Webb, CEO of Weightless SIG and president of the IET.

Aidan Quilligan began by exploring the intersection of business, technology, design and customer experience – looking at how technology over the last three centuries has revolutionised the way companies run their businesses and interact with customers. The arrival of steam power – around 1760 in Britain – marked the start of the first industrial revolution, and was accompanied by a transformation in communications with the advent of mail services.

The second revolution was initiated by electrical power leading to telegraphic communications, the third revolution was industrial automation, and in Industry 4.0 Quilligan maintains that the parallel industrial and communications revolutions have converged with the internet enabling smart connected devices.

The Industrial IoT (IIoT) could, he says, add US$14.2 trillion to the global economy over the next decade. To do so, it must follow a steady path:
Efficiency > Safety > Productivity > Service Centric > The Outcome Economy
“Services will be linked to Outcomes,” Quilligan says.

Aidan Quilligan, Accenture
Aidan Quilligan, Accenture: Industrial IoT could add US$14.2tn to the global economy over the next decade


Lessons for us all

All industries are learning as they go in the Internet of Things. He points out that the basic business case for a cooling equipment company is not confined to managing temperatures, but is also in keeping the coolers from going “AWOL” (absent without leave), being stolen for use in people’s homes. “And I still applaud Google Glass for putting their technology out there. We’ve all learned lessons from it about fashion and privacy.”

The IoT is changing entire business models. “We are already starting to see ‘traditional’ companies embracing new digital opportunities,” Quilligan says. He points to one Accenture client, the France-based tyre company Michelin which as well as supplying tyres, now offers its enterprise customers Tyres-as-a-Service. In-built tyre sensors measure tread wear and deflation, enabling Michelin to inform its customers when tyres need to be serviced or replaced to achieve their optimum performance. Wrongly inflated tyres can have a serious impact on fuel economy and tyre life, and manually checking tyre treads that don’t yet need attention is obviously costly.

Strategic Usage Data of this kind is creating a virtuous circle of:
Eco-Driving > Uptime > Fleet Optimisation > and Fuel Efficiency.
Quilligan refused to be drawn about the details on his client, but he does say that in the process Michelin is “federating an ecosystem” of entirely new business partners.

I guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the details.

Quilligan discusses Industry 4.0 with chairman, Prof William Webb
Quilligan discusses Industry 4.0 with chairman, Prof William Webb

Aidan Quilligan leads Accenture’s newly formed practice for Industrial Software Solutions, focused on the opportunities in Digital Enterprise, Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). To expand its skills and capabilities in this area Accenture recently acquired the evopro group of companies. Additionally, Aidan leads all of Accenture’s Mobility capabilities globally. This group specialises in design, development and deployment of advanced mobility, embedded software and Connected Device solutions for mobile and network devices, automotive, medical, and aerospace & defence. Aidan has spent over 26 years with Accenture. He graduated from University College Dublin in 1988 with a First Class Honours degree in Electronic Engineering. He is based in Manchester, UK.

Cambridge Wireless (CW) is an international community for companies involved in the research, development and application of wireless & mobile, internet, semiconductor and software technologies. With 400 members from major network operators and device manufacturers to innovative start-ups and universities, 15% of which are outside the UK, CW stimulates debate and collaboration, harnesses and shares knowledge, and helps to build connections between academia and industry. CW’s 19 Special Interest Groups (SIGs) provide its members with a dynamic forum where they can network with their peers, track technology trends and business developments. CW also organises the annual Future of Wireless International Conference and Discovering Start-ups competition along with other industry networking events and dinners.

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