For Industry 4.0, Sales Matter Most26 Mar 2018
As a company in plastics, developing new technology, we feel the problem of slow Industry 4.0 adoption first hand. Some blame these difficulties on a lack of education, or bias against doing things differently. What few talk about is that the business market for plastics has been so successful that catching it with Industry 4.0 technology is difficult.
The backbone of the plastics manufacturing industry is built on selling and buying complex, heavy production machinery. The vast majority of this machinery runs upward of $100,000, and is bought in long sales cycles with lengthy lead times, labor-intensive installations, extensive training for new controls. For both machinery brands and manufacturers, the deal works out and money is made on both ends. Machinery sales set the norm for buying and selling products.
So why is this difficult for Industry 4.0 technology? The buying and selling norms of machinery drive products prices too high for adoption, and alienates most of the market. With a quick survey of Industry 4.0 products, one sees new software or hardware technology regularly means paying over $5000, and most of that is because it costs thousands of dollars to sell a single unit. In the end, the upfront financial investment for most Industry 4.0 technology is huge. Too huge to justify, even if it really does increase efficiency and provide value.
For more industry-wide adoption, the way forward is in building inexpensive, easy-to-use products, sold through lower cost sales channels like Amazon or Ebay. This is the way to include the entire plastics industry in on what Industry 4.0 could become.