“Industry 4.0” in Moravian-Silesian Region in the View of Ivo Vondrák “Industry 4.0” is a very modern expression, yet many people believe it is a new name for a phenomenon which has been long been in the works. So what is it, actually? Industry 4.0 must be considered in a wide context. We live in the age of expert knowledge combined with available IT capacities and a quality of software that allows for great leaps forward which can affect all walks of life. The changes can be seen in households, businesses, government and administrations, health care, education -- basically, in every sphere of human activities. Industry 4.0 is a key part of new economics, closely connected to production plants. Its aim is to speed up, cheapen, and streamline the primary operations that fulfil increasing and ever-changing customer demand. Digitalization and the automation of such processes, vertical and horizontal interconnections in supplier-purchaser chains and production systems, as well as the use of various smart technologies and AI are mere tools to achieve such goals. They are the first steps to redesign a wide spectrum of present company processes. In this light, they are not slight rearrangements of something that has already existed but quite radical transformations.
Are companies ready for such a change? According to firms involved in preparing companies to implement Industry 4.0, only approximately 5 % of small and mediumsized companies are ready to implement full digitalization and over 50 % are deeply mistaken in believing they will be in no way be affecteded by Industry 4.0.
As for the Czech Republic, they are mostly daughter companies of international businesses who invest in this sphere while Czech entrepreneurs seldom do so even if they have enough money for such investment. Besides an insufficient understanding of how important such investments are
Why should Czech businesses get involved in Industry 4.0? A great number of Czech companies draw their competitive advantage from technical know-how combined with high flexibility and a relatively cheap labour force. Yet some West European businesses deliver the same product faster, in better quality and cheaper than Czech producers thanks to automation in the preproduction phase and automated production. Their new investments can therefore easily eliminate the current advantage of Czech businesses. Numerous Czech companies often serve as subsuppliers to foreign businesses who assemble final products and are the true leaders in implementing the principles of Industry 4.0. It is most probable that these businesses will soon demand the full digitalization of the supplier-purchaser chain, and those subsuppliers who do not comply with their requirements may be replaced in the chain. POSITIV ǀ 3/2018 21