Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT) affect Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and End users alike. The physical and digital worlds are coming together, making factory automation more flexible, increasing energy efficiency, linking logistic processes more closely and optimising every phase throughout the value chain.

More and more companies are beginning to appreciate and embrace the concept of industrial digitalisation. Yet there is an understandable concern about how this can be achieved in practice and how it might impact the workforce.

Here we provide ten practical tips for implementing digital projects which could transform your business.

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Practical tips for Industry 4.0 implementation

Tip 1. Get your definition right.
Don’t let digitalisation jargon get in the way: define what you are doing using familiar terms your team will understand.

Tip 2. Don’t take on too much at once.
Digitalisation is a multi-year journey: pick quick wins that enable your organisation to gain knowledge and confidence

Tip 3. What do you want to achieve?
Set clear objectives for digitalisation: it will keep to identify and prioritise any potential barriers at an early stage.

Tip 4. Get the buy-in from the whole team.
Effective leadership and team working are crucial enables of change management: establish clear responsibilities and communication lines from the start.

Tip 5. Make sure your team is equipped for change.
Be inclusive and open from the start: employees who feel valued and involved are far more likely to be receptive to new ways of working.

Tip 6. Establish your business model.
Think outside the box: digitalisation provides an ideal opportunity to consider totally new business models based on disruptive concepts such as servitisation.

Tip 7. Assess your level of technical readiness and maturity.
Break thinks down: the use of technological and sequential development stages, as suggested by the VDMA, can provide a real insight into your digital expertise

Tip 8. Industry 4.0 is about collaboration – choose your partners carefully.
Interoperability matters: look for partners that have deployed solutions together to reduce implementation risks.

Tip 9. Think about the data.
Be transparent from the outset: pay close attention to what data you are sharing, with whom, and whether your technology provider can claim ownership of that information.

Tip 10. What will it mean for the future?
New roles require new capabilities: view digitalisation as a primary opportunity for upskilling within your organisation.