In 2015, Industry 4.0 triggered a situation that can best be described as a boom. While Industry 4.0 remains a hot topic, the year 2016 should be the time to calmly discuss this new industrial trend as part of a company's long-term strategy. Many company executives say "I think I understand the concept of Industry 4.0, but I just don't know where to start." To answer this question, it must be noted that the direction of specific actions that a company should take in order to adopt this industrial change differs depending on the type of industry and the company's position. Therefore, this paper considers the type of industry and the difference in company size in attempting to show the broad directions that a company should follow.
Industry 4.0, a vision proposed by the German government, aims to bring about innovations in the production equipment industry, and promote the design of the modular architecture of this industry and the development of international standards for interfaces between modules. Changes in the industrial structure, as well as changes in players, that have taken place in other industries such as PCs, liquid-crystal-display televisions and semiconductor manufacturing equipment, are highly likely to occur in the production equipment industry as well.
Two trends of overseas companies in relation to Industry 4.0 ---"a smart mother factory" and "manufacturing platform service business" --- are noteworthy as pioneering examples.
It is risky for Japanese companies to disregard these trends. The reason comes from the outlook for management environments over the next several years, which consists of the following two possibilities: (1) in the product market, competition with emerging market manufacturers that are equipped with the manufacturing know-how of developed countries will intensify, and (2) in the capital market (M&A, etc.), competition with manufacturers in developed countries that have incorporated the growth of emerging economies and thus expanded their market capitalization will increase.