Is Quality 4.0 distinct from Industry 4.0?
Yes, Quality 4.0 is absolutely distinct from Industry 4.0, but there are several caveats you need to understand. As a quality professional, you have to stay ahead of new trends and buzz phrases. Quality 4.0 and Industry 4.0, two broad concepts that have emerged in the manufacturing trade press, are merely the latest to gain notoriety. Here is how Quality 4.0 is different from Industry 4.0.
What is Industry 4.0?
If you are not familiar with the buzz phrase Industry 4.0, you are certainly not alone. Truly, the anticipation of the “fourth industrial revolution,” a movement driven by an unprecedented implementation of automated technology, is nothing new. A more accurate portrayal is that experts have declared the advent of the next industrial revolution for several years.
You do not have to look very far in the past to find portends of the next industrial revolution. Like many others, here is a video uploaded by Siemens in 2013 that declared the start of a new era. You may have heard the buzz phrase “smart manufacturing” during this time period too, which essentially means the same thing. To add more context, here is PwC’s declaration of Industry 4.0.
Furthermore, the Industrial Internet of Things, dubbed IIoT by the manufacturing trade press, is also part of the fourth industrial revolution along with big data analytics and artificial intelligence. You can add mobility to the equation too.
Essentially, Industry 4.0 is merely the culmination of all of these trends into a new buzz phrase. Recently, the widely popular book, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” written by Klaus Schwab, has finally solidified the concept of Industry 4.0.
What is Quality 4.0?
As you can see, Industry 4.0 is far from a unified concept, but Quality 4.0 thankfully has a more narrow definition. Once again, the experts at LNS Research have developed a concise definition of what Quality 4.0 means in the real world.
In a recent article on Quality Digest, Dan Jacobs says, “Quality 4.0 is the application of these Industry 4.0 technologies to quality, but it isn’t really a story about technology. It’s about how that tech improves culture, collaboration, competency, and leadership.”
Think of real-time supply chain visibility as an example of what Jacobs is describing. Analytics and automation form the technological platform underlying Quality 4.0, but the real-world outcomes of technology implementation can unveil new business opportunities. Thus, unprecedented connectivity and collaboration among suppliers can potentially enable a manufacturer to evolve from a product-based business model to a service-based business model.
Real-world applications are the distinctions
Whereas Industry 4.0 is a broad concept, Quality 4.0 is the real-world application of Industry 4.0’s concepts. You know how difficult it is to identify root causes of nonconformances. Quality 4.0 will not replace how you manage quality. It will give you new ways to address old problems through automation and real-time intelligence.
Also, some Industry 4.0 concepts do not apply to quality at all. Virtual reality and machine learning algorithms do not necessarily yield positive results in quality management. Quality will always be the human element, not what smart machines predict.
From a different perspective, consumers will always be the final judge of quality. Quality 4.0 gives your company an indispensable opportunity to integrate social media to pinpoint quality shortcomings. Remember that consumers do not always file complaints when defects arise. Often, consumers will take their grievances to social media in lieu of filing an official complaint.
As 2017 comes to a close, you can expect more analysis of what Industry 4.0 means for 2018. In this context, Quality 4.0 will continue to be more actionable as more best practices come to light.