Jose E. Cabanes - Industrial Director of SPB
As a manager in a medium-sized company, when I leave 4.0 industry forums I envy my colleagues who work in large multinationals. A pharmaceutical industry representative once told me that within their factories all over the world, they had selected a small group to perform a series of feasibility tests with several technologies associated with 4.0 industry. We’re talking about tests with collaborative robots, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, etc…Some of these technologies are still undergoing tests and it’s not always easy to evaluate which of them have the greatest potential.
On the other hand, each test performed in real environment conditions implies considerable workload and investment. That being the case, those who can perform several tests in parallel seem to have advantage over those who can "shoot less bullets" (killing mosquitoes with cannon fire has always been inefficient, but at least it’s effective). So, what can small fish do to compensate this big disadvantage? At least consider the following:
• Aim better: It’s obvious, if you have fewer cartridges you should choose your target wisely, in other words, studying technological feasibility becomes critical.
• Swim in groups: Share the effort and risk with suppliers, technological institutes and even other companies in the industry. It may be slower, but if there’s will it can be achieved.
• Run more: Sometimes the first to demonstrate which technology is feasible isn’t the one to exploit it first. If we take advantage of our size to be more agile, we can be the first to obtain results.
This last point has a lot to do not only with the size of the company, but also with its culture and orientation towards innovation, which also plays an important role in this issue, but this is long enough at least to cover another article.