Learning Unit (LU) 9 is about new technologies and future trends. We only needed to read one article this LU which was all about Industry 4.0. This concept has been known to me for some time so the particular paper was not of that much interest of me.

I’ve listened to a number of podcasts about industry 4.0 over the past couple of years. It seems to come back in many different industries and penetrate numerous topics.


Industry 4.0: state of the art and future trends

So, at this moment in time I guess that industry 4.0 might have become a rather controversial topic. A book titled Industry 4.0 was written by a very famous economist called Klauss Schwab. Many people know this guy from his book “The Great Reset” and being the president of the World Economic Forum (WEF). And, with the times we live in today, this guy may not be liked as much as he wanted to.

I’ve read parts of his book about Industry 4.0 and although he has some visions about it, it never really reaches the level op detail where you can get some practical implications from it. I think this is also reflected in his book about the great reset. I’ve not read that one yet, but the reviews seem to come to the same conclusion. Lots of visionary and hypothetical stuff, but no practical and/or concrete information.

But about the article; it is all about what they call Cyber Physical Systems (CPS). CPS are considered an industry 4.0 technology enabling the merge of virtual and physical worlds, making the boundaries between these two worlds disappear. CPS are driven by WIFI, RFID, NFC and even GPS. This is often also referred to as the Internet of things (IoT).

In the paper they describe how IoT will penetrate the entire (global) supply chain and make every step of the process traceable, connected and have seamless integration with computational algorithms and physical components.

The authors also talk about some integration with enterprise architecture and application integration. They specifically mention Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) by which I think they mean the current trend of micro-services. They see it as a key technology to enable IoT on a grand scale. I think I have to agree with them since (micro-)services are often build upon bounded-contexts so they do not have to be dependent on anything but their direct producers. This makes for a very flexible service environment.

Next, they talk a bit about business process management. The authors mention that currently there is an urgent demand for translation between various models that different workflow management systems can operate with each other in the industry 4.0 environment.

In the latter part of the article they summarize some technical challenges and research trends. Let’s quickly summarize them here too, and start with the technical challenges:

  1. Many industries a not ready to support Industry 4.0. New business models need to be developed and/or new models must be combined with old models.
  2. Scalability is a big challenge! As more manufacturing networks get connected there will be scalability issues.
  3. Data science and analytics will have a prominent role in Industry 4.0. There will be massive amounts of data, and unprocessed data might contain valuable information. New Data applications must be developed and applied in Industry 4.0.
  4. IoT-related challenges: it must be a heterogeneous network which included the connection between various types of networks through various communication technologies.

Next let’s see what they think are important research trends to look out for:

  1. Integration of CPS.
  2. Verification and testing of CPS. This subject is probably going to be very complex since there will be technological and physical aspects to it.
  3. Blockchain technology. The WEF predicts that by 2027 10% of the global GDP will be stored on blockchain.
  4. Smart devices. Many smart devices will be connected and integrated with industry 4.0.
  5. Resilient smart factory. Resilience is a concept in systems science and has been used asn an attribute of a complex system. A resilient smart factory would have systems that are tolerant to disruptions.
  6. What does Industry 4.0 mean for existing ERP, EIS or ES technologies?
  7. Industry 4.0’s other impacts. What other impacts will industry 4.0 have.


EA Course Review

Looking back at the course I have to say it was not what I expected it to be. I thought it would be more technical but it seems like EA is more of a social study than anything else. For this reason, I did not enjoy it as much as I would have thought. This is not a bad thing! It just made it clear to me that EA is not for me. I’m a techie and always will be, so this course did not align with my interests that much.

The material in the course was interesting but a bit too much if you ask me. We needed to read so much literature that I forgot most of it. And, if it were not for these blogs I wrote the pas couple of weeks, I would have forgotten much more I think. In my opinion; if we read less articles, but had more detailed weekly individual assignments we would have learned and contained more information.

Then, the group assignment. I enjoyed the process of doing this assignment. Although it was a social study, not what I’m used to. It just feels “so fluffy” to me. Doing interviews, transcribing them, coding them and then drawing conclusions from them. I’m more used to checking concrete results like performance measurements of some program. This seemed a bit too hypothetical to me, but it is was it is and exactly how it is supposed to work. This is the nature of empirical research I guess. Nonetheless, we had a nice case and were able to draw some nice conclusions from it.

I also want to give shout-out to all my group-members. I will leave them unnamed but if any of you read this, thank you for the nice collaboration.

Then there were multiple individual assignments which I didn’t really document in this blog. These were small assignments that would ask questions about the articles we read. I think they were on a biweekly schedule. They involved things like, creating a business model canvas and mapping it to ArchiMate, creating EA for a car and some general questions regarding the articles. These assignments did not impact the end result of the course, meaning they did not count in the end score you get as a student.

The last individual assignment however, did count in the end result. In this assignment we needed to make a video of ourselves where we pitched the value of EA in combination with an emergent technology. I hated this assignment… It really felt like being back in high-school or something. I found it strange that this kind of assignment would be required in an academic setting. It did not really fit I think. It was also pretty difficult to write 2/2.5 minute pitch about EA without throwing around too many buzzwords. In the end I received a 7/10 score for this assignment which is very high I think. Because they say: anything scored 8 or higher must be very, very good and they generally do not award this often.

In the end, I finished the course with a 7/10 and for something I did not enjoy as much as I had hoped, I’m very satisfied with the end result. It’s not quite on the level of the other courses I did at the OU. I generally finished courses 8 or higher but yeah, what do I do about it.

So, to sum up: The course was interesting but just not what I expected. I’ve learned a lot, especially that social studies are definitely not for me. Overall, the papers we needed to read were interesting, just a bit too much. Less papers but more in depth individual assignments would probably allow students to retain the information better. Then I would opt to make the individual assignments count in the end result of the course, and drop the video assignment.



This brings an end to the EA course! I’m happy it’s over haha. I really need some nice in depth technical stuff to read/program next. As I said previously, I did not document the individual assignments or the group assignment. If anyone would like to see this, drop me a comment and I will try and motivate myself to document it. Documenting the group assignment might be difficult since I cannot expose any detailed information about the case company. I can talk about the results and findings, but without too much context it might be difficult to understand.

So what’s next? Well I have some interesting projects I’m working on. One of them involves making heavily use of multi-threading in a Unity3D application. But I’ll leave that for the future blog.


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Article 1: https://edisciplinas.usp.br/pluginfile.php/5824789/mod_resource/content/1/Industria%204.0%20CIMM%20PMR%203301.pdf 

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