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Why Industry 4.0 means more than just new machinery?

The point of view of Thomas Immich, CEO of Centigrade

Transforming industry into a ‘smart factory’ is a major challenge for companies in many ways. As well as developing and implementing new processes and IoT-capable production facilities, one of the most important aspects is the human factor. There are numerous further training and professional education courses designed to get employees ready for new machines. Centigrade offers an alternative by developing interfaces that get new machines ready for employees. Thomas Immich, CEO of Centigrade, explains why Industry 4.0 means more than just new machinery, and why the human-machine interface needs rethinking.

Centigrade views UX design and engineering as strategic aspects of developing new machinery, applications and processes. In other words, according to Thomas Immich, the often rather vague concept of ‘strategy’ primarily means: ‘Rather than remaining in a state of implementation, let’s take a few smart steps towards significant change.’ This motto continually guides Centigrade in the development of user interfaces for machinery and systems. A good strategy is doubly vital in the UX sector: most users are overwhelmed by the quantity of features with which they are saddled on a daily basis. Targeted countermeasures are therefore needed to provide users with significantly fewer functions. This results in more satisfied users with greater skills experience, as well as in lower implementation costs, as many functions can be removed as early as the concept phase, or at least moved down the priority list.

Industry 4.0 is increasing the level of automation, networking machines and processes, and enabling machines and parts to communicate with each other. In those developments, the human interface plays a very important role. It is clear that machines – and robots in particular – are doing an increasing number of simple tasks but the complexity of the goods being produced and customer demand for personalisation are also increasing to at least the same extent. The flexible production dreamt of under Industry 4.0 is only possible if people continue to play a major role, although with different tasks to perform. Thomas Immich also explains that, according to one of the company’s long-term clients, despite a very high level of innovation, the top management are absolutely clear that humans are the ‘drivers of added value’. Industry 4.0 therefore naturally involves future topics such as Artificial Intelligence, cobotics and autonomous vehicles. However, all of this must be understood, calibrated, controlled and taken responsibility for by humans! A self-explanatory and intuitive user interface is key to this.


  • Users enjoy operations more than before;
  • Improved or redesigned UX support the employees in achieving their goals without the need of a handbook or expert training;
  • Lower implementation costs for new technologies.

Source: EIT Manufacturing, Germany

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This good practice and more than 60 other good practices can be found in the Industry 4.0 database with the link:

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All good practices are described in the Catalogue “Industry 4.0 Skills and Competencies”.

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