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What is the best improvement strategy for Industry 4.0?

Roger Hoerl says the problems to be solved in Industry 4.0 are too complex and diverse for any one method to suffice.Roger Hoerl says the problems to be solved in Industry 4.0 are too complex and diverse for any one method to suffice.Roger Hoerl, the Brate-Peschel Associate Professor of Statistics at Union College, gave a thought-provoking opening plenary talk at JMP Discovery Summit China in Shenzhen, the manufacturing capital of the world. With his 30-plus years’ experience in industry, much of that at General Electric, he has considerable expertise in statistical problem-solving and quality improvement for complex processes and problems.

In this era of big data and growing complexity of processes, problems, and opportunities, statistical problem-solving and Industry 4.0 are of particular interest. Before considering what the improvement strategy for Industry 4.0 may be, Roger took the time to revisit the first three industrial revolutions — Industry 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 — because each builds on the previous one.

Given the complexity of problems to be solved in Industry 4.0, Roger says a portfolio approach is required. Large, complex problems can be addressed by drawing on statistical engineering. It's timely that the newly created International Statistical Engineering Association has been organized and will be co-located with the Spring European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS) meeting, where Roger will also be speaking.

Here are some highlights from Roger's talk:

  • In the last few industrial revolutions, Roger noted that data has been an enabler, but human creativity in approaches to improvement is also key.
  • More data allows for the application of new analysis methods, which can be creatively applied in combinations (statistical engineering).
  • Roger also highlighted the challenge to deal with complexity within organizations.
  • To elevate the importance of improvement, organizations should consider a CIMO, Chief Improvement Officer, to take a holistic approach to improvement.

The talk was very well-received and followed by lots of questions, many of which flowed into the break. You can see his slides here in the User Community. (Slides are in English.)

For more from Roger, a longtime JMP user, you can check out The Integration of Big Data Analytics into a More Holistic Approach and his book, co-authored with Ron Snee, Statistical Thinking: Improving Business Performance. He has also helped create our free Statistical Thinking online course.