You hear about it at every trade show, there are entire exhibitions about it and whenever you hear a sales pitch for some fancy new machinery, you’re bound to get some high-gloss brochure praising the benefits of Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things. In this world, all your machines communicate with each other and the long-sought connection between factory floor and ERP (enterprise resource planning) environment, seems just within your grasp.
But as always, things tend to get murky when you get into the (somewhat gory) details. Typically, the larger stone machine supplier will supply you with their own Industry-4.0-connection software. For a hefty fee, of course. But if you ask questions about older machines (from the same vendor) or interoperability with other manufacturers, the typical salesperson will start mumbling something along the lines “yeah, maybe…; not officially supported, but might work; will be added in a future release.” A rather unsatisfying situation, if you ask me.