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Author's profile photo Rusty Baldwin

Marital Harmony with Industry 4.0

The story starts 11 years ago when Industry 4.0 was brought to life for me at the Hannover Messe industrial fair. Put simply, Connecting devices to the internet/intranet allows you to monitor, control, and improve the efficiency of those devices. It struck me that I could do this at my own home. However, my personal Industry 4.0 initiative meant that I would have to upgrade or replace all of the devices in my home to connect them to the internet. But my wife is one of the thriftiest people in the world, and changing or upgrading all the devices in the house would be near impossible. I have to fill out a purchase order request form for anything I purchase above 50 dollars!

In 2017 a miracle happened, and I saw my opportunity; we were moving into a new home. With the move to the new house, I knew that some of the appliances would need to be upgraded or replaced.

My chance was now.

My first move to get this new home automated was in the deadbolt lock section at Lowes. My Wife and I were standing there in the aisle, and I picked up the deadbolt that I wanted; it had a keypad and was wifi enabled. However, it was 450 dollars, much more than my wife was willing to spend, so she immediately picked up the 50-dollar manual deadbolt. At this moment, I realized that I would not win this argument because the difference between her deadbolt and mine was 400 dollars. I jumped into action and explained it had a keypad and was wifi enabled. The keypad meant the kids wouldn’t need keys, nor could they lose them. Next, I explained that it was wifi enabled. I got a blank stare and a “Why would we need that?” at the time, but I did not have a good answer. Therefore, I lost to the 200-dollar keypad deadbolt. This lesson taught me to be more prepared for the next purchase. I need to have my justifications for why I would spend twice as much for wifi enabled devices and what are the benefits of connecting these devices to the internet. To this day, we still have that keypad deadbolt.

Now let’s move on to my first Industry 4.0-inspired purchase. It was Thanksgiving day, and we were cooking a turkey. BAM! The oven went out right in the middle of cooking the turkey. This was an in-wall oven and microwave combo. These units are so expensive that the difference between the wifi-enabled unit and the regular unit was only 600 dollars. I got to work. I built my case. Why would she need a 5,000-dollar wifi-enabled oven and microwave combo vs. a 4,400-dollar oven and microwave combo? My clever thoughts are below.

  1. She could preheat the oven while at the grocery store. She could pick up her phone and start the preheat cycle for the oven from anywhere. This one caught her eye for a second, and then I lost her.
  2. This one piqued her interest further. She could see when the preheat cycle would finish and when to put the meal in the oven. This new option would save her time and electricity. According to her, you can’t put a price on her time. This meant this option was PRICELESS! See what I did there?
  3. Next was the ability to see when the meal was just about finished, from within the house or while at the store, anywhere she had her phone. This option would optimize her time and allow her to coordinate the side items. I believe this one was the winner, the tipping point, if you will.
  4. She could see how much energy the oven was using. I don’t think I even need this one, but I threw it in for good measure.

I won this purchase and was on my way to automating my entire house.


Next came the thermostat. We arrived at Lowes again, but I had a little surprise for her. I picked up the ecobee 5th Gen wifi enabled thermostat. I got that look, so I immediately pulled a piece of paper out of my pocket. Under her breath, I heard an “Oh boy,” She immediately understood what was about to happen.

  1. You can change the temperature on your phone. “Ok, fine!”. I didn’t even have to go any further down my list.

At that moment, I realized that this would get much easier with each purchase. You want to be this guy; it makes things much more manageable. My wife knew I would always have my justification ready, and I had already thought the purchase through. If I had no justification, I would pick the 50-dollar Keypad Deadbolt.

We now have everything in this house automated but three things: the original keypad deadbolt, the dishwasher, and the water heater. We haven’t replaced the keypad deadbolt because I got the wifi-enabled garage door, and everyone comes through the garage now. The dishwasher was a disaster. For the life of me, I could not come up with good reasons to get the dishwasher wifi enabled, and it was expensive, very. I gave up on this one quickly. Even I turned thrifty on this one.

Lastly is the water heater. This guy has nine lives, he will not give out, but when he does, I am ready.


The moral of the story is this. Connect everything you can on your shop floor; you can monitor your shopfloor from anywhere and optimize productivity. When you start your Industry 4.0 journey, have your justification ready, and don’t get caught in the aisle at Lowe’s with a blank look. And last but not least, not everything needs to be connected. Not every connection is going to be justified. If you need help with the justification, email me ( and explain the situation. I handle requests like this daily, at home and at work. I live and breathe Industry 4.0.


END. Thank you for reading


Rusty Baldwin, Global Solution Owner – Manufacturing

SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud – Digital Manufacturing


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