What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 defines a new data rich manufacturing world powered by the output from capital equipment, sensors, scanners, customer reviews, suppliers, etc. This data is being used to enrich techniques, tools and insights possible in manufacturing today. Big data, dark data, unstructured/ structured data, biometric, geospatial, and many other kinds of data are being utilized by new powerful analytic tools, machine learning algorithms, augmented reality tools and much more.
Why is this vision hard to achieve and what are the forces dragging down the adoption of innovations?
In board room and executive committee sessions everywhere, manufacturers are discussing their next steps to achieve an Industry 4.0 (or Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)) future. And while the desire is definitely there, it’s the path that’s unclear.
What many may not realize is that Industry 4.0 may not be immediately possible in facilities that have been starved for capital, have antiquated or poor performing operations, paper-based systems, etc. Finally, the digital exhaust or digital thread produced by the Industry 4.0 devices may itself be a source of new revenues for manufacturers.
THE CURIOUS PATH TO INDUSTRY 4.0
How will your firm achieve a more digital future? The best firms will be keenly self-aware of their own situation as well as deeply knowledgeable of the technologies now available to them. In the process, each will likely develop a new, curious path to an Industry 4.0 future. One thing that’s abundantly clear is this: incremental change won’t win the race. It will take considered thought, vision and strategy. Those that choose leadership will win, while those that lurch from one incremental patch to another will not. What approach will your firm take?
Change and manufacturing are two words that have rarely been used together. In fact, change has been glacially slow. Plants are typically land-locked and difficult to re-design. Capital equipment and legacy technology are very expensive. Processes are rigid. Change does not happen in manufacturing as it is quite difficult to pull off: organizations are rewarded for precise schedules, cost management, quality, and reliability. Change is disruption. But in 2018, change must occur and changes are coming at an increasing frequency. Why? What will it entail?
The Technology Opportunity: Today’s Bright Line
Most manufacturers today possess a MRP/ERP software solution. One study indicated that around one-half of manufacturers use a MRP solution and up to 61% of manufacturers have or will acquire one.10 The larger the manufacturer, the more likely a MRP solution will be in use. As order volumes, revenues and/or BOM (bill of material) complexity grows, a MRP solution becomes a necessity. For many firms, implementing an MRP/ERP solution is all they’ve done with regard to automation. The MRP tool gives them macro level visibility into production planning, bill of material content, etc. For smaller manufacturers this may be sufficient especially if their growth aspirations are limited.
Industry 4.0 initiatives will affect most every aspect of a firm. They clearly are NOT just a technology initiative. Material changes in the workforce will be required for some firms. Processes must be substantially altered, too. Even core business functions like sales, customer service, public relations, quality management, etc. must be and redesigned.
Download this whitepaper to learn the curious but nonetheless dramatic journey to Industry 4.0 and how will it be different than any prior one your company has undertaken. Are you ready for it?
You May also Like to Read: