PLANT 4.0 / Four-point-zero


R & D, R & D

Ninety-seven, 37 years ago I was born and my first dreams like a whole generation born in 1980 were made of flying cars and "two thousand" years. In the ex FRG of 1989, shortly after the fall of the Wall, I was in the playground of the French primary school in Villingen and, after the lithographed versions of Jules Vernes, my hands and my child's eyes CM1, driven by exceptional curiosity, browsed atypical works including this unforgettable photocopied version of a sulfurous Cyberpunk 2020 by Myke Pondsmith. This intellectual golden boy who observed his cybernetic arm like Rodin's thinker had, in his interrogation, an air of Hamlet. From VR to connected cars, via connected objects, some great innovations, technological as well as societal,

First the dream as a culture.

This role-playing game with a realistic and futuristic universe, inspired by the work of Philip K. Dick and William Gibson described, long before Raymond Kurzveil's Singularity or Jeremy Rifkin's essays on the 4th industrial revolution, an ultra world -connected, ultra-modern, ultra-sophisticated of which the brilliant Syd Mead and his matte paintings and concept arts that already influenced Pasadena in the 70s had already seemed to tell us about.

Then design as identity (Syd Mead).

Before connecting objects, vehicles, boats or planes to the Internet, it was the ideas and the people I connected to each other. From the 2000s when I participated in the development of virtual worlds for tens of thousands of players connected at the same time, I apprehended with my first company the possibility of having the Internet in your pocket and the whole world under the eyes of anyone what moment.

R&D in discipline. A “samurai way”? #Kaizen (MB).

While we were among the first to display complex 3D models on Android, we were pushing forward-thinking features in the days when augmented reality was not yet a buzzword. From role playing to video games, it was a culture of open, interactive, immersive innovation that I accumulated and experienced. Customer cases gave way to use cases, ergonomics issues were pushed by the pulls of the markets. Behind the holy grail of Product Market Fit, I caught a glimpse of the endless quest for continuous improvement, now marked with a hot iron on the skin of the industrial fabric

In innovation, ambition is controlled by the method, the obstacle is circumvented by transversality (DCNS / MB).

From project to project, from company to company, always guided by innovation, I came to it, by accompanying startups to large accounts and investors to CEOs, to connect markets with uses and the future with the present. This is how, by putting connected glasses in the hands of more than 2,000 French technicians in companies such as Total, DCNS, PSA, Airbus, Colas, GRDF or Air Liquide, we have transformed the decision-making chains, followed in their change by the maintenance and intervention trades.

People at heart, daily use as the sole objective. (Singularity Insight)
With Expert Teleportation, my previous project, our technician of the future does not only have an enlarged view, his hands are freed from documentation and communication tools! It is a profound transformation of hundreds of trades which discover the possibility of acting with precision from a distance, of training in real time or even of carrying out a complex technical operation successfully, from the first intervention.
Behind the love of technicians, it is the passion for the industry and its factories that expresses itself, French industrial successes. Act on the daily lives of professionals, offer real utility, immediate, simple and practical, read in their eyes the satisfaction of a tool as accessible and essential as a hammer: that is priceless. The sense recognized in use, recognized and accepted by his fellows is a rare distinction. It was our way of helping to change the world.

When uncertainty becomes a principle of strategic thinking, you have to stay down to earth: usage remains the king #metrics #kpi #analytics #ROI (MB / / Gartner)

So if I hadn't been able to chisel into the Berlin Wall, I gave one in my own way in that of industry and technology. To reconcile man and machine and regain unified productivity around communication, information and the know-how of exceptional technicians. When such and such evoked an Uber of knowledge, I thought of a Book of Men, a universalism of expertise, of this dream that Descartes had, before Diderot and d'Alembert, of the dictionaries attached to each other.

With video collaboration, we virtually teleported decision-makers and experts in one click, here in a production center, there in the basement of a storage center, still here 7000 kilometers in the streets of the city center from a megalopolis, in the middle of the BSS desert, on an oil station affected by a helicopter failure or closer to your home, in the technical location of electrical and gas installations. From Ethiopia to Las Vegas, via Munich or London, we demonstrated each time the major issues of this disruption and at the heart of which our technician of the future was going to live: factory 4.0.


The current merger between the Internet and factories irrevocably reminds me of the increase in humans.

With factory 4.0, each process becomes intelligent, almost aware of its role in the production chain, automation becomes a system, mechanics, electronics monitored by digital. The mesh of information is structured like an informational hive. Each alveolus cell is resilient, self-healing, the hotspot has disappeared. It is dissolved in the incessant buzz of communications. Breaking a canal is never critical. Machines, systems, products manufacture and exchange data within the factory and outside its walls with the rest of the world, its suppliers, its markets, its customers and, of course, its technicians.

Personal characterization of factory 3.0 compared to 4.0: a profound change in relationships (MB).

This transformation is a profound mutation. It is not a revolution. 
It is an evolution.  Continuous optimization makes it possible to produce faster, cheaper, sustainable. The product has become a service. Service an experience. Experience, a customer relationship in an innovative and congruent ecosystem. It is an ecology of productivity. Digital is the glue of this new organization of relationships and information.

Factory 4.0 then becomes a platform that would pass the MIT fab lab for a special issue of Pif Gadget. As such, it becomes a technological sanctuary, it is the convergence of techniques and cultures. By acquiring a total virtualization capacity, it gives itself the capacity to experiment at almost zero cost, it is the fusion of laboratory and production.

But beware, transforming a production chain is not just equipping it with sensors or automata that will produce big data, it is not just adding IoT or cloud computing as we would offer ourselves magazine cover by leading some POCs with startups…

No, these transplants of technological innovations require a strong overall vision and validated by design. And above all, through culture, this mass of often intangible and yet so important information that represents the history of the company, its identity, its relationship with its market, its trades and its products and that you have to know how to go look where it is, that is to say, among men!

(William Audureau for Le Monde.)

Because it is culture that alone accounts for no less than 70% of the success of an innovation. We better understand the advantage of having one that is "open". So 20% of the process and 10% of the tools remain. So even a hyper-automated factory like the one in Kornmarken in Billund, Denmark, which manufactures Lego bricks 24/24 for the whole world and which only has around 800 employees, even it works and succeeds because it has put people  at the heart of its project.

Producing data without seeking value and use amounts to setting fire to an oil well (University of Washington / Google Images / Forrester).

The advantage of being digitized for a factory is to open up to what I call  the fourth dimension: that of time.

Just-in-time production, on demand, ever finer time-to-market management, delivery in less than 24 hours, the possibility of anticipating, testing and verifying the results of different scenarios. The possibility of exploring virtually, endlessly, all the strategic options for planning and optimizing production.

But the need also to think operationally, structurally, technically the deployment of this digitization. How to make machines communicate with each other? The famous Machine to Machine that will represent the biggest Internet traffic, once connected, how to protect them? What security in the cloud?


The factory 4.0 technician will be the conductor of collaborative robots and companion AIs. Virtual reality and augmented reality will merge in the service of a mixed reality where it will be possible to read in space and time the information produced by myriads of connected objects. The production chain will be wedged on a timeline  on which it will be possible to navigate and in a space that can be endlessly redeveloped.

This multiplier of perceptions and consciousness, will considerably rationalize around human needs - and as a whole - production. With exoskeletons, connected glasses and autonomous humanoid robots, we will see the emergence of chief pilot officer.

Exoskeletons, VR, Daqri, e-learning, VR CAD ... No Tolkien-style single ring to govern them all but a chief pilot officer. (DR)

If the cobot (collaborative robot) is made to become man's best friend because he cannot do without it, it is again and always the man who will help him perform in tasks requiring technical excellence. It will therefore require specialists in the training of Cobots - as well as their maintenance.

Thus, expert systems and virtualization enabled by digital technology will make it possible to be profitable on the production of small personalized series designed in a very short time.

With what I call the  Autonomous Swarm Factories (bees factories) or swarms of autonomous and modular production units, production will be designed in cells, in mobile modules. The workshops will become adaptive, led by interdisciplinary, transversal profiles
. The need to know and understand all the other trades of the company will be vital. The organizational pyramid crushed by ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence will have a management whose sole mission will be motivation and creativity.

Model on the information networks of Paul Baran, inspirer of ARPANET, adapted to the evolution of the industrial ecosystem (MB).
A reindustrialization whose implementation would consist in returning to past models would therefore appear regressive, spoliatory and dangerous.
Within production teams, the role of management is also promised radical changes. With the information available to everyone, the manager will no longer have to order performers but motivate collaborators whom he will wait for to be creative.


With my various missions of consultant in strategy of innovation and information, I had the exceptional chance to be able to work on a project of mediation in virtual reality around of the magnificent Hermione. This 17th century frigate formerly led by LaTouche-Tréville and who led Lafayette to the American War of Independence in 1780.

Today, a real piece of reconstruction, brought to life by authentic, exceptional and fierce enthusiasts, it is now headed by Commander Yann Cariou.

I was given the rare privilege, for an R&D phase, to attend its first sea trials. This is how the spectacle of its crew in action was one of the most intense experiences of cohesion of team I was able to attend.

It always reminds me that nothing will ever be done without the agreement of goodwill, talents and hearts.

In front of a voxiebox, we experimented with holographic display. On the Hermione, teamwork. With UX, the destination of each product. (MB / Information Architects)

So if we had to hoist the sail of Factory 4.0, hoisting the ends and singing, I think it would have to be thought of with a team ready for human adventure, whose sense of camaraderie would exceed the sum of egos because the mission would be no less than writing new forms of industrial production.

Finally, to chart this technical course, this technological journey, the courage and talent of a team would not be enough.

Indeed, it is quite incredible for me to imagine how my father would work today, he who spent nearly three decades in the army as a transmission workshop manager.

With the challenges and pressure now linked to MCO, we are witnessing an overhaul of tools and intervention methods which has an impact on production plants. Two letters sign the conceptual horizon of the entire business approach: UX or user experience.

From design thinking to other methods, user expectations determine access strategies to uses and markets. We want to penetrate the brains.

I remember a few years ago - this seems to date from a century so much things seem to want to change - this industrial framework which shared with me the anecdote of an admiral whose sailors complained about having iPhones in their hands and Soviet interfaces on their work screens. Not only did this pose an HR problem by devaluing the incentive to the profession but in addition, it could happen that this promotes the risk linked to human factors with loss of vigilance and errors in the interpretation of information ... Or when BYOD asymmetrically highlights the weaknesses of an IT department ...

All of this will be behind us with Factory 4.0. and its autonomous swarm factories. The user experience will be thought out for the technicians who will inhabit it as for the end users of the products which will co-design them. Designed thanks to these autonomous swarm factories, they will make use of them that will make sense. Strong for society and not just for its economy. UX as a permanent method and objective. The quality of the chain goldsmith, under the eyes of men and in the hands of robots with production subject to time.

Because reindustrialization requires realizing the impossible: bringing down this new Berlin Wall in the directions of industrial innovations still trapped in the silos of the twentieth century. It is a dream that is embodied. It's our flying car. The zero point of a new dimension.

Article originally published on by Marc BAGUR on March 12, 2017.

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