How Industry 4.0 started at Brazilian Federal Government

In 2015 there was a concern on my part that I shared with my colleague Airton José Ruschel, as we watched the discussions that were taking place in the world, mainly in Germany about the actions of "Industrie 4.0" and we did not perceive a movement on the part of the Brazilian Ministry of Science , Technology and Innovation (MCTI) or the Federal Government the place that we belong. We realized the importance of the theme in the digitalization of the industry and how it would affect the entire production supply chain, but that until that moment there was no awakening by our bosses.

So, we decided to take a risk, and took the matter to my boss (and today a friend), Prof Jorge Mario Campagnolo and Eliana Emediato, both at the Secretariat of Technological Development and Innovation (SETEC) under the coordination of Secretary Prof Armando Zeferino Milioni. So, it was decided to hold a first meeting on the topic and we would invite Prof Carlos Arruda from Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC) to address the fundamental elements of Industry 4.0. To document this fact, I wrote the first Technical Note (NT No. 03/2015, Proton 30242/2015 of 06/03/2015) with the object "The new industrial revolution: the platform Industry 4.0".

On August 19, 2015 it took place in the SEDOQ meeting room at the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) in Brasília with 44 directors, specialists and technicians from the following institutions: MCTI, MDIC, CNPq, FINEP, BNDES, CNI, SENAI, SEBRAE, ABIMAQ, ABIT, ABIEC, CERTI, ANPEI, ABDI, UFSC, KUKA Roboter do Brasil Ltda, Fundação Dom Cabral, Brazilian Competitive Mouvement and RNP. There, there was the awakening that it was necessary to unify forces using the Triple Helix (government-companies-academy) to build a policy of inducing an industry 4.0 ecosystem in Brazil. The drivers were:

  • The government should be the driver of the process, creating an Advanced Manufacturing Ecosystem (Industry 4.0);

  • The government should seek to integrate efforts to develop companies' ability to innovate;

  • Promote meetings to discuss the topic with entrepreneurs, where each partner must define their role;

  • This action can be anchored in actions with large systemist companies that develop micro and small companies in chain;

  • The discussion must think about the future without leaving aside what has not been done.

Indeed, a first Working Group (WG) was formed with the following institutions: MCTI, MDIC, FINEP, SENAI, CNI, SEBRAE, ABDI, BNDES, ABIMAQ, ABIT, ANPEI, CERTI and CNPq to prepare a proposal for job. The Government also realized the need to coordinate the leadership of the process, and several meetings took place between Secretary Marcos Vinícius de Sousa (MDIC), Secretary Milioni and Prof Campagnolo. Thus, there were preparatory meetings between the Government, where Thales Marçal Vieira Netto of the then M2M Chamber (Machine to Machine) of the Ministry of Communications (MinCom) was invited to participate in the WG, an important initiative, but which was still in its beginning.

The first meeting of this WG took place on 11/25/2015 at the then Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC) in Brasília with the objective of developing a national strategy for Industry 4.0. For this work some elements were considered:

  • Understanding the policies of leading countries on the topic, such as the USA and Germany, which have clear strategies for transforming their manufacturing structure. In addition to the analysis of these countries, the study of the China case (Made in China 2025) in view of its impact on the global manufacturing structure. (The initiative resulted in the work of ARBIX, GLAUCO et al. BRAZIL AND THE NEW WAVE OF ADVANCED MANUFACTURING: What to learn from Germany, China and the United States. New studies. CEBRAP [online]. 2017, vol.36, n. 3, pp.29-49. ISSN 1980-5403.

  • The experiences of advanced manufacturing programs in countries such as the USA and Germany originated from the need to implement a set of policies that would return industrial leadership to these countries. The analysis of these experiences served both as a benchmark for a Brazilian strategy and also for identifying opportunities for international cooperation on the subject. The importance of international cooperation is evident when considering the absence of some technological and organizational competencies critical to the development of manufacturing in the country, as well as the fact that in this theme products and services necessarily only make sense if thought on a global scale.

  • The action plan for advanced manufacturing (Industry 4.0) in Brazil must have its starting point in the challenges that may generate the stimuli and scale, so that an advanced manufacturing program can be implemented in the segments associated with these. This path would have the objective of identifying the advanced manufacturing solutions that will be demanded, inevitably, in the country and in the world in the medium and long term. (This action resulted in MCTI's "CT&I Plan for Advanced Manufacturing in Brazil - Profuturo, Produção do Futuro" in 2017).

  • In other words, it was necessary to anchor the program in certain technological challenges that were relevant to the solution of Brazilian structural problems. The success in enabling the development of a local industrial chain capable of developing new technologies and solutions for manufacturing associated with these challenges has the potential to generate spillovers for several sectors in the future. In this sense, the State's action would not be to benefit certain sectors, but rather to invest in frontier areas - in niches in which Brazil has greater competitive potential - aiming at the aggregate benefit of the economy (today: Agro 4.0, Saúde 4.0, Smart Cities and Industry 4.0 in the FINEP Open Call of 2020).

  • In addition to identifying partner countries, it was essential to map the base of companies, Science and Technology Instituts (STI) and other organizations that could contribute to the advancement of Brazilian manufacturing. This survey was critical to establish an effective public-private dialogue and focused on the country's competences.

  • This dialogue was the spark of identification of the challenges and opportunities for the insertion of Brazilian manufacturing in this new level of industrial organization defined by the union of business, manufacturing, technology and marketing strategies. It was necessary to discuss regulatory aspects, infrastructure (including both energy and telecommunications, as well as data transfer and security standards), technological diffusion, competences (human and organizational), among others.

  • The advanced manufacturing strategy can be guided by three stages of analysis. The first concerns the focus of the strategy: the country will act in isolation trying to build technological solutions for advanced manufacturing or it will act in partnership and in an integrated manner with the best in the different countries, aiming to competitively position Brazilian companies not only in the domestic market, but also worldwide? This step is important, as each focus requires different actions and in different sectors. (Here is a criticism, as we have never been able to advance in this strategic cooperation agenda as occurred between China and Germany, for example).

  • The second, the evaluation stage, concerned the way in which the strategy was implemented. Acting in an integrated way with the world or in isolation implies different actions and instruments of promotion. Should we encourage and support Brazilian companies to become global suppliers of intelligent systems embedded in fourth generation capital goods? Should we encourage and support Brazilian companies that manufacture large capital goods to supply priority sectors that demand machines and equipment with fourth generation technologies? (Here, we move forward, with the work "Perspectives of Brazilian Experts on Advanced Manufacturing in Brazil", done by Prof Jefferson Gomes and published in 2016 by MCTI and MDIC).

  • The third stage concerned the public intervention model. One approach would be to set up centers for demonstrating and disseminating technologies and processes. This was the strategy employed by the USA with its centers of excellence in advanced manufacturing, which presupposes the formation of civil society consortia, which compete with each other and share the risks with the government. Another approach would be to support the development of advanced manufacturing pilot projects in industrial companies. Or, yet, we could encourage a three-stage development action strategy, where the first phase would be to support the development of intelligent systems, including the design and production of the physical infrastructure of the Internet of Things (IoT), mainly sensors, actuators and software ; a second phase with the shipment of the infrastructure developed in the first phase on the existing machines (retrofit); and with a third phase with the full development of new generation machines, designed with embedded intelligent systems. One option, which was then ventilated, would be the organization of new integrated promotion instruments - through BNDES, FINEP and other mechanisms - aiming at the establishment of a competitive advanced manufacturing ecosystem.

  • It was important to anchor the program in certain technological challenges that are relevant to the solution of Brazilian structural problems. The work of this WG should start with the identification of specific problems and structuring projects that will anchor public policies for the industrial development of advanced manufacturing in the country.

  • Other transversal fronts were also established as relevant, such as the concern with the training of labor, which is extremely important.

Thus, this reflection on the roots of the identification of the Industry 4.0 opportunity is added, where it is evident the need for efforts to continue promoting the theme that could have resulted in a Brazilian National Strategy for Industry 4.0 and in a Applied Technology Center to Industry 4.0 as an organization that could be on the edge of knowledge, science, technology and innovation to transform it into products.

Finally, today I pay tribute to all these pioneers of Industry 4.0, who, thinking they can change the world, are the ones who really change it.