INDUSTRY 4.0: POTENTIAL FOR THE DIGITIZATION OF THE AUSTRIAN SAWMILL INDUSTRY
Survey of small and medium sized sawmills shows that the first level of digitisation is only partially reached.
Industry 4.0 refers to the integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into production systems, which can optimize production flows. However, as a first step, the application of ICT requires the digitization of processes. This project examined whether small and medium-sized enterprises of the Austrian sawmill industry fulfil the requirements for the Industry 4.0 (“Internet of Things”). Thereby a better understanding of the need for action for sawmill enterprises, but also for associations and political institutions to ensure the competitiveness of the Austrian timber industry, was achieved.
Digitization criteria: three levels
The state of digitization was assessed by means of a survey based on digitization criteria. The questions dealt with the existence of basic data processing (first stage of digitization), digitally networked information and communication (second stage of digitization) and digitally networked products and services (third stage of digitization).
By cluster analysis, the 87 surveyed small and medium-sized sawmills are divided in three groups. The first group (n= 35), the "manual small business", did not reach the first stage of digitization: computer supported production programs (0%) are not available. The second group (n=26), the "the automated business", has partially reached the first stage of digitization. Half of the companies use production programs (55%), but only a quarter of the enterprises have their own server (27%). The third group (n=26), the "solid developed business" group, has reached the first stage of digitization as the basic hardware and software is available. However, there is a lack of further software equipment and cross-company strategy for digitization, to reach the second level of digitization.
Information, financing models and IT-Consulting recommended.
Only one group of enterprises reached the first level of digitisation. The remaining companies did not reach the first stage of digitisation or reached it only partially. This shows that there is great potential for the digitisation of the Austrian sawmill industry. In order to foster digitisation, the provision of information and financing models as well as the support of external IT experts is recommended.