Workers on engine production line in car factory

Industry 4.0

A Customized Harley in Just Six Hours


Mechanization, mass production, and computerization: The world has already witnessed three industrial revolutions – and we’re in the middle of the fourth right now. Georg Kube, Global VP – Head of Industrial Machinery & Components Industry at SAP, is responsible for ensuring that companies in every sector of industry can move forward with Industry 4.0. He took to the SAP Stage to talk about Industry 4.0 and to explain how companies like Harley-Davidson, the Port of Hamburg, and Virgin Atlantic are harnessing its benefits in their particular industries.

Today, industrial machines no longer operate in isolation. They are completely interconnected – with other devices, with corporate IT systems, and with people. What does that mean in practice? “Imagine that your production line is manufacturing a specific product. Suddenly, a higher-priority order comes,” says Kube, describing a typical situation. “The smart factory responds instantly, telling the machines to re-tool immediately!”

Motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson has completely reorganized its production process based on SAP HANA from the cloud. Now, customers can choose from thousands of customizing options to create the bike of their dreams. “That process used to take 21 days. It now takes just six hours,” Kube tells the audience. In another example, the Port of Hamburg uses GPS to track trucks as they move around the port area. The truck data is checked against the order book and each truck driver receives a message on his or her mobile device detailing a route that exactly matches the transshipment schedule and traffic conditions. And aircraft from the Virgin Atlantic fleet collect half a terabyte of sensor data on every flight. Could there be a problem with the landing flaps some time soon? By the time the affected aircraft lands, the service team has assembled, the correct spare part has been sourced, and the engineering hangar has been booked for repair work.