The dawn of Industry 4.0 has significantly affected the way companies design their manufacturing and business proposition. We are seeing shorter and shorter product innovation cycles with ever greater product variety. Conditions, which has led companies to seeking more flexible production systems able to accommodate both multiple product variants and even multiple product generations without excessive requiring excessive re-engineering or re-investment. Companies are also reinventing their business offerings in the market, with some industries seeing a shift towards servitization. Inevitably, the shift towards Industry 4.0 also affects other domains and disciplines within the companies.
At Aalborg University, one of the TEFFIC pilots address how Industry 4.0 is affecting the discipline of product development. The pilot takes offset in the course “Product development and Production preparation” taught on the bachelor in Global Business Engineering. The goal is for the students to understand the challenges imposed by the increased product innovation phase, but also for them to embrace the opportunities it offers in terms of both product and manufacturing technology.
The pilot is implemented as a full lecture and a mini project. The lecture address Industry 4.0 and its implications on both manufacturing and product development. The mini project spans the entire course and allows the students to delve into the topic on their own. In small teams they must design and develop a product capturing the opportunities offered by Industry 4.0. With the ongoing pandemic, the offset given for the miniproject was to design an “intelligent” product addressing some need arisen from the Covid19 pandemic.
The final evaluation of the pilot has not been made yet, however, preliminary evaluations and responses from the students have been very positive. With their background in business, the students have welcomed the focus on Industry 4.0 from a technology perspective.