Industry 4.0: Russia and MENA powering forward with innovative use cases

Industry 4.0 is progressing rapidly around the world, even following the massive disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve had to manage. Where are Russia and MENA along this transformation curve and where might they be going?

All kinds of companies around the world have smart factory or smart industrial site initiatives underway or are working towards one. It’s been predicted that the industry 4.0 market value will exceed $300 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 37% from 2018. It’s also been estimated that smart factories alone could add as much as $1.5 trillion in value to the global economy by 2022. Smart ideas and digital tools can add massive benefits to industry.

Industry 4.0 applies digitally-powered advances like seamless connections, data-generated insights and workflow automation to traditional industrial processes. It can transform the factory floor, product delivery, mineral extraction on oil, gas or mining sites, and more. The goal is improved safety, increased revenues and profitability, and greater agility. This theory isn’t always simple to put into practice, though.

There is a sharp contrast between what companies want from industry 4.0, and the realities of the present-day industrial landscape. Industrial companies have often been held back by disconnected processes with little integration between operational equipment, IT systems and business units. Getting the most out of industry 4.0 will require them to plan and implement digital transformation at a foundational level. McKinsey has referred to early-adopting industrial companies as “lighthouses,” and reports them seeing up to 90% productivity spikes through deploying digital industry 4.0 tools and systems.

Proven use cases in Russia

What I’ve realized in recent times is that some people and organizations can have a misconception of what industry 4.0 means in reality. There is a much bigger picture than “just” attaching Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to big trucks and production line machinery: that’s part of the equation but not all of it. Industry 4.0 also includes all kinds of supplemental digital solutions. These cover connectivity, data intelligence, predictive maintenance and health and safety. There’s a lot more to effective industry 4.0 strategy than OEMs producing big trucks and machinery.

One Orange Russia mining customer has to clean the coal it mines to obtain a concentrate, free of impurities and rocks. It needs to transport tons of raw coal to a processing site without mixing up loads. If a driver should make a mistake and unload coal of a certain grade into the wrong pile, the quality and yield of the concentrate will fall, and over-grading will occur. It’s a costly mistake to make.

To prevent this, Orange Russia developed a solution that equips the storage site with a system of stationary telemetry modules to track movement of dump trucks and make sure the various grades of coal are unloaded in the correct locations. It’s accurate to less than one meter and offers major financial benefits for the customer.

Another customer in the logistics space has benefited from Orange thinking outside the box about industry 4.0 issues. We developed a solution based around RFID to monitor physical assets throughout the logistics supply chain. It comprises fixed readers, hand-held scanners, RFID tags and our own software. The solution allows the customer to store information about the transportation of goods, mailings, products themselves, or returnable packaging usage on a physical server or in the cloud. It has helped the customer avoid unplanned expenses, optimize resources and achieve consistently high performance.

MENA use cases in play, too

Our region includes more than Russia, and Orange has developed successful industry 4.0 use cases for customers in the Middle East and North Africa territory, too. Orange has worked with DeBeers Marine South Africa, a division of DeBeers, the world’s leading diamond company, to deploy a customized IoT solution that provides geofencing. The project helps maintain safe working distances for crew around heavy machinery involved in marine diamond mining operations. The Orange solution imports vessel AutoCAD files, carries out onboard site surveys to map antenna locations, and then uses these to geofence a predetermined area on board the vessel. Crew members are equipped with wrist sensors, and if any crew member breaches the geofenced area, the ship’s bridge is alerted immediately. Crew safety is improved, helping meet the customer’s “zero harm” target.

In the Middle East, we’ve worked with the Abu Dhabi government on a 3D visualization solution to enhance smart services across the city. It is called IoT Cockpit and virtualizes connected objects enabling the Abu Dhabi Municipality (ADM) to see, interact with and manage its smart utilities network across the city. It gives ADM visibility of whether street lighting is working correctly or whether public transport is operating normally. The solution is another example of how industry 4.0 solutions can provide unexpected value-added benefits.

IoT and industry 4.0 can deliver big benefits

Industrial companies face all kinds of complexities, from intensifying global competition and changing business models to regulation and changing customer needs, particularly in the aftermath of a global pandemic. These complexities present the opportunity for new ways of approaching, and solving, traditional problems.

But solving problems and adding value is about more than just tracking assets or monitoring machinery. It’s about finding new use cases, connecting them up to your whole operation and looking for gains and solutions wherever they might exist. What we’ve found through our work with customers in Russia and around the Middle East and Africa is that the real value can be found when everything is connected by IoT, not just certain things. What we’ve also found is that being a successful industry 4.0 company is partly about finding big and small solutions to your variously-sized problems, but also that the value really comes from integrating those solutions into your business processes. That’s how you build an enterprise that is greater than the sum of its parts and prepare your business to deal with whatever challenges today and tomorrow might throw at it.

Read more about how Orange Business Russia is helping companies with industry 4.0 initiatives and digital transformation.

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David Holden
David Holden

David Holden is Chief Commercial Officer for Orange Business Russia. He has a wealth of experience in the technology industry, with particular focus on telecoms. Today David’s role encompasses the Internet of Things, digital transformation across multiple verticals and many other areas of digital technology. He enjoys traveling and the multinational and multicultural nature of his job.