PIA's Vision 4.0

Published on May 20, 2019


Thomas Ernst, CSO of the PIA Group, talking about Industry 4.0, digitization and PIA's Vision 4.0.

If you put on the "Industry 4.0" glasses, Mr. Ernst, what do you see?

I see great potential for our customers, mechanical engineering and PIA, a true win-win situation for everyone. With "Industry 4.0" we can expand our competitiveness, increase productivity, innovative power, as well as establish completely new business models in the future.

The last years have been mainly influenced by discussions about I4.0 and what it means. Now we see the concrete desire of our customers to apply it’s solutions, methods and techniques. In the end, it's about what our customers need and can use. PIA is in demand as a leading manufacturer of automation solutions and we work with our partners to offer appropriate solutions to our customers.

An important part of I4.0 is big data and data mining, which have a significant influence on development. PIA uses this data for various evaluations by anticipating future conditions based on historical data as well as using predictive methods. With I4.0 solutions PIA on the one hand, provides its customers with technology for significant productivity gains and helps to increase competitiveness in the dynamically networked markets of the future. While on the other hand, PIA also uses this evolution internally to run better engineering based on real-time data.


Where does I4.0 start at PIA and where does it stop?

Depending on the customer's requirements, we use I4.0 along the entire product life cycle. This ranges from the concept phase, with the use of 3D simulations and VR, the Digital Twin and I/O Link to the production phase, where our application piaOptimum determines the bottlenecks in complex linked assembly systems. Thanks to data transparency, fast and sustainable optimization of production efficiency is allowed. In the area of worldwide service support, we will switch from pure hotline service to true smart service products, tools, predictive maintenance, data glasses and augmented reality.


piaOptimum is already in use. Which future functionalities are planned?

Here I would like to emphasize 2 areas: (1) Suggestions for optimization measures based on recognition of recurring defect patterns, Keyword: AI. (2) Preventive maintenance: Messages from smart components (cylinders, axles, sensors etc.) are received by piaOptimum and reported electronically to the PIA Customer Service Center. Keyword: Smart Service.

What is in the focus of PIA's I4.0 vision?

With PIA 4.0, we want to further expand our motto: "Move beyond vision, and move towards implementation". An example of this is our digital twin assembly systems which reduce throughput and conversion times and detect errors early. All of our I4.0 measures are puzzle pieces creating the digital image of our PIA systems. They enable simulation-based optimization and smarter overall control. In the future I4.0 will enable us  to implement individual production in the style of mass production, meaning, lot size 1 with the same efficiency as mass production, all this with increased productivity through Smart Services.


How should this vision be implemented?

Excellent question. Because many visions often remain simply a vision and fail in implementation, we set the course several years ago and created our own I4.0 department at our location in Austria with more than 10 employees working on these I4.0 solutions. Since April 1, Claude Eisenmann has reinforced this and is responsible for the digitization activities within the PIA Group in his new role as Chief Digital Officer. With additional experts and specialists from other PIA locations as well as selected partners, Mr. Eisenmann realizes the vision of "PIA 4.0". With this great knowledge and experience within the PIA Group and the combined forces, we quickly move beyond vision, and move towards implementation.