Value creation for companies in the age of Industry 4.0 through Big Data

The technological advances and the global interconnectedness allow an accumulation of digital data on an unprecedented scale. These mases of raw data from the Internet, mobile communications, health care, finance, credit card payments, customer card usage, etc. are to be processed productively and made usable. The technology „Big Data“ is designed to make complex data sets economically usable and thus ensure the competitiveness of its user. Algorithms search for patterns and links within the data in order to structure and evaluated them. Research, science and industry aim for precise future forecasts and real-time analyses, which should revolutionise decision-making. The larger the available data volume, the higher the probability to attain a useable forecast. At the same time, the precision of the forecasts increase the quality of the recommendations for people’s actions. Data is power and the resource of the future.

Industry 4.0 as a vision of the future

A digital revolution is currently taking place in the economy thanks to big data analysis. Through this fourth industrial revolution, humans, machines and IT systems („Cyber-Physical Systems – CPS“) will be connected in an intelligent way. The goal is achieving high growth and an increase in productivity. Nevertheless, it should also be noted that the increase in efficiency is not just due to intelligent production machines or „thought“ products. It is also about increasing the speed of correcting flaws and disturbances.

Due to the expanding digitalization in the manufacturing sector, robots are already coordinating production processes. Assembly assistants communicate with components by means of radio technology and inform the employees on the assembly line which parts are to be utilized in the next  step. Intelligent, self-driving boxes ensure that the required components are in the right hands at the right time. Statistical data and error diagnostics can be read in real time on the tablet. The machine and production data are collected, interlinked and evaluated in order to carry out the scheduling in an even more realistic way and to increase the failure safety. By incorporating traffic data from the company’s own car park and staging messages, an entrepreneur can make realistic statements about production and delivery times. The product delivered to the customer in India can then be checked remotely from the factory in Germany. By analysing the data on machine failures and wear parts, appropriate maintenance plans can be created. If production and sales data are linked with customer feedback, causal relationships may be recognizable. In the future, customers can react more flexibly and produce individual products according to their requirements.

Industry 4.0 as a success factor

It is crucial for the success of Industry 4.0 that companies invest in their own IT security and adapt the work organization and qualification of their employees to the necessary framework conditions. Broadband construction and the creation of a digital EU internal market are essential. Moreover the legal framework for data protection has to be adjusted to current developments.

Even Big Data can make a good economic and social impact. Despite the technological advances real workers can not be dispensed within production. Since it is difficult to withdraw from the collection of their data, attention should be drawn to each individual’s data protection concerns. Creating transparency is the top priority. The transfer or integration of private forms of communication, such as messenger services or voice control between man and machine, represent not only a technical but also a legal challenge. This problem occurs in particular when using private terminals. This new form of networking information greatly reduces the risk of profile formation, whereby third parties can anticipate the behaviour, interests and habits of those affected.

From a data protection point of view, one solution approach is an effective anonymization of data. This is to ensure that no conclusions can be drawn to specific persons. Data protection is a big challenge, but Big Data and data protection are not mutually exclusive. In order to utilize the technology permanently and to profit from the value creation, the handling of data from all sides should always take place in a responsible framework, possibly in compliance with the provisions of company law, and privacy aspects must be implemented from the outset („privacy by design“). The reliability of data systems is essential.

Do you have questions? Please contact: RA Nicole Schmidt, LL.M.
Consulting Service: Legal Consultation