[Tribune] From industrial data to economic sovereignty in the face of crises

Even before the world economy had time to breathe after the five waves of the coronavirus that brought down thousands of companies in France and Europe, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia accentuated the uncertainty and risks for most economic actors, industrialists to head, particularly vulnerable to the shock of inflation due to their exposure to raw materials and the exponential rise in energy prices.

In this context in which the effects of the various crises are combined, it is about the industries truly entering the 21st century. This is characterized by the fourth industrial revolution whose tool is the IIoT (Internet of Things for Industry). This technology offers optimal keys to companies to recover and exploit the industrial data that make and will increasingly make the wealth and competitiveness of economic actors. Those who know how to read weak signals, measure and anticipate new and future impacts will have the upper hand and be the industrial champions of tomorrow. A question of sovereignty for France and Europe.

Energy impact: from black gold to the valuation of industrial data

Integrating volatility and cost control at the heart of more agile and resilient industrial models is an imperative to deal with uncertainty and crises. While raw materials see their cost explode at the rate of the various crises we are going through, affecting electronic components, wood, metal and then hydrocarbons or fertilizers, it is necessary to control everything we can control to face it.

If the industry experiences these increases, it will always be able to better control its production costs, its level of non-quality, its material losses. This is one of the promises of the Industry 4.0 transition that is becoming an emergency for manufacturers. This transformation is characterized by the optimization of the production chain through the appropriate use of the data it generates or is capable of generating. The most expensive raw material, the most expensive energy, is the one that is wasted… The promise of Industry 4.0 is to drastically reduce this often underestimated reality, thus combining economic and environmental challenges. Its industrial data, untapped to date, could well be worth more than the cost of rising raw materials.

Given the rise in the prices of raw materials, evaluate in order to anticipate

In this period of scarcity of raw materials or components to assemble, it is about finding the right pace of production. Useless and dangerous to force the machines to take them to maintenance as quickly as possible. We need to rethink its use, to reduce wear and tear. Rethink maintenance to perform it at the best time and manage the industrial tool so that these maintenance costs adapt to the production situation. The analysis of industrial data enables this adaptation between use, wear and maintenance for a balanced management of these three pillars according to the economic context.

In addition, the risk of shortages of raw materials, such as components, forces industries to make rapid changes in supply. These adaptations are not neutral in the manufacturing process, on the contrary, you must quickly adapt to this new situation. This capacity for agility becomes one of the keys to staying on the strategic course and preserving the value of your business and your know-how. The new components that must integrate the manufacturing processes have a different physical and chemical signature, with a known impact: quality drop, defects, machine stoppages… If before these dangers were normal, the risk has increased and will continue to increase. they will continue as long as the industries do not get them under control. In addition, the human experience, at the center of solutions, will need habit because its ability to adapt is usually quite slow. That is why the analysis of very high frequency data must allow the immediate capture of weak signals to quickly guide the teams towards the best scenarios and adaptations. From now on, in the face of a regularly changing supply context, the use of data analysis methods integrated in the manufacturing process is an important industrial asset.

End of the globalization of industrial production and French reindustrialization

For the industry as elsewhere, we perceive a one-way trip as these historic shocks unfold. The successive crises ended at all costs with the era of globalization to inaugurate that of a long reindustrialization in the European continent in particular. But it will no longer be about creating gigantic industrial sites that move large populations and the goods produced over long distances. This new era of reindustrialization will see the establishment of small sites that attract a local population that will play on the effects of competition between local industries to ensure a career that is richer in experience and more profitable in the long term, also undoubtedly more diverse. with industrial passages interspersed with tertiary periods.

In this context, both productivity and quality over time will be achieved through rapid learning at workstations and through a collection of experiences that is no longer individual but computerized. Gone are the days when the operator with ears trained for 20 years adjusts the machine to find its sweet spot. Industry expertise is based on an accumulation of production data through IT solutions that will provide more mobile workers with the additional information essential to be efficient in their operations and decision making. To compensate for a certain delay, we must have confidence that the French industry is capable of accelerating on this key issue.

The extremely volatile situation reveals a new world where the relationship with uncertainty governs economic and industrial decisions: situational intelligence will be the main lever for survival. French and European players must take advantage of it by investing more in the industrial Internet of things and data, because without industry 4.0, it is impossible to implement our industrial sovereignty in the long term.


Paul Pinault, VP of IIoT Products and Market Strategy at Braincube


The opinions of the experts are published under the full responsibility of their authors and in no way commit the editorial staff of L’Usine Nouvelle.

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