The money is there, the ideas too. But is Industry 4.0 still profitable?

Integrating smart machines and management systems into human activity is a challenge for Polish companies. In today’s economy, it is impossible to use resources, raw materials and trade advantages efficiently without the support of digital technologies. However, you must carefully assess what is profitable and what is not.

  • Industry 4.0 will determine the competitiveness of the Polish economy. Polish companies have a great chance to quickly move from backwardness to the forefront of development.
  • 30% of entrepreneurs have the funds, but don’t know how to implement an Industry 4.0 implementation.
  • Following the trend is not enough. Before choosing solutions for a company, it is necessary to evaluate and test them, estimate expenses and assess the scalability of the project.
  • These are the most important recommendations of the debate organized within the framework of the 14th European Economic Congress.

Poland currently has many sectors of the economy that are by far at the forefront of technological solutions in the world through the use of IT support. The pandemic has further increased the interest of domestic companies in Industry 4.0 solutions. The support of public agencies has proven to be a great incentive to seek the funding needed for the digital transformation of companies.

There is money, there is no knowledge

– Public institutions, especially during the pandemic, have contributed a lot to accelerating the digital transformation of Polish companies. We have 2 million companies in Poland that will have to undergo transformations. Besides tutoring, financial aid is also important. Now decisions about the future will be important. Entrepreneurs will not be left on their own. Advice centers will be created to support the preparation of projects and indicate where funds can be obtained for this purpose – said Paulina Zadura, director of the department of analysis and strategy of the Polish Agency for the development of enterprises during the “Industry 4.0” debate organized as part of the 14th European Economic Congress.

The issue of public funding of Industry 4.0 solutions was also addressed by Michał Janasik, Vice President for Finance and Commercialization of the Łukasiewicz Research Network, involving 26 institutes and independent research institutes, said:

– Companies do not always need financial support, for them the most important thing is to help solve technical problems or seek scientific support. If we get a problem to solve, we immediately launch our procedures and provide an initial response within 15 days. Scientists are able to verify the design and provide technological support. Our assessments show that at least 30% of entrepreneurs have the resources, but don’t know how to implement 4.0.

Also read: Polish industry should get used to artificial intelligence. Like?

Does Poland compare to other countries in terms of digitization and uptake of smart solutions useful to industry? The problem may be the efficiency of the implementations. It is not about following fashion and working towards the universal digitalization of processes; it is necessary to assess the usefulness of the activities and the amount of expenditure incurred.

The time of a pilot

– The pilot project is a perfect solution to assess the relevance of projects. We are talking about a low-cost sample answering the question of the usefulness of changes and adaptation of the IT infrastructure to the efficient operation of the company – advised the president of the APA group, Artur Pollak. – Well-used technology gives cosmic acceleration and improves the quality of business.

APA Group, cooperating for more than 20 years with large entities in the field of robotization, process automation and computerization, has built a Polish industrial Internet of Things platform called Nazca 4.0 , which is a technology that automates the management of information flows.

The company has been cooperating for many years with the Silesian University of Technology to train students and entrepreneurs in the field of new technologies and in the field of training professional resilience in making difficult strategic decisions.

From collaboration to innovation

– As a research university, we have solutions supporting cooperation between industry and science. The university helps the industry because it cannot exist without it. Yes, there are times when not all research is directly applicable, but it has to be. Companies often seek external funds and do not fully utilize them. We have been operating in the so-called feedback loop for years, assuming that ultimately the most important thing for entrepreneurs is the financial result of the implementation – said the dean of the Faculty of Mechanics and Technology from Silesian University of Technology, Anna Timofiejczuk.

Read also: The industry will have more wind in its sails. Artificial intelligence will help

Industry 4.0 means in practice preparing innovative solutions that allow you to gain a competitive advantage. This happened with the Polish electric bus, which will soon be mass-produced at the Solec Kujawski plant.

– The Polish electric bus was presented for the first time at the Brussels Motor Show and aroused great interest, as we used an innovative solution during the design process, placing the battery cells on the vehicle floor. The bus will additionally be equipped with instruments for monitoring the technical condition of the propulsion, batteries, passenger distribution, etc. Last year, we had over 1,200 meetings with representatives of municipalities and potential buyers. For many, it was surprising that around 60% of bus parts come from Polish suppliers, said Piotr Janiak, regional manager of ARP e-Vehicles.

Many Polish companies have been implementing Industry 4.0 solutions for several years. This group includes Amica, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of home appliances.

– We use the Internet of Things in solutions to serve our customers. It is possible to have a complete overview of our stocks in the refrigerator, applications in the oven that allow you to download recipes and adjust the temperature in the air conditioner by phone. We have successfully solved the storage of finished products and parts in high-bay warehouses through the use of intelligent machines and robots. However, we use scalability barrier assessment daily for such solutions. Not everything can be widely used in the group, but without testing and trial and error techniques it would be very difficult to improve competitiveness,” added Robert Stobiński, Board Member of Digital Transformation of the Amica group.

Vetasi’s vision is to be a partner in resource and service management and to work as an extension of the client’s team, providing industry expertise and managing labor and human resources in the board framework.

Human resources and infrastructure

– What we have experienced during the pandemic has been a fundamental change in companies, where documents and most processes have been digitized, as well as remote working. As a niche company operating in the Industry 4.0 support system implementation market, I can say that Poland is doing well compared to other countries. Above all, our IT staff stands out. In addition, there is another difference – companies abroad make decisions about investments in new technologies and digitization, bearing these expenses themselves, whereas with us they can rely on financing – says Jarosław Łukasiewicz, Managing Director for Poland and Eastern Europe Region of Vetasi.

Does the current technical infrastructure limit the development of the most modern technologies in the economy?

– When we talk about the infrastructure used in the transformation of Industry 4.0, it should be remembered that we are talking about efficient and secure communication of companies with the outside world, but also within business structures. When we talk about the transmission network, we undoubtedly have a good fiber optic network. Many companies decide to build their own internal networks resistant to external threats. The creation of dedicated WiFi networks gives new impetus to innovative implementations. The important thing is that the solutions are available, tested under various conditions. Companies themselves need to understand that they need to be technically prepared to use new solutions – said Mikołaj Skipietrow, Commercial Director of Cellnex Poland.

Industry 4.0 will determine the competitiveness of the Polish economy, the effective management of human resources and technological progress. Government agencies are substantially, technically and financially prepared to support the industry. It is worth taking up the challenge of civilization so that others do not overtake us.

See the full report of the “Industry 4.0” session organized as part of the 14th European Economic Congress

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