If you’re new to the world of Industry 4.0, it can seem like this big, daunting phenomenon, but it’s really quite simple! – Industry 4.0 is the next revolution in industrialisation or as many are calling it ‘the Fourth Industrial Revolution’. It is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. There’s a lot involved in Industry 4.0, but we’ve examined the complex revolution in detail, and are able to bring to you the 10 nuggets of advice to help you succeed in Industry 4.0.
The aim of Industry 4.0 is to create ‘smart factories’ that utilise automated computer algorithms to monitor physical processes and make decentralised decisions. When these factories evolve into smart factories, they will have the capability to self-manage any issues and internal processes, bringing with it a wealth of benefits, from reduced costs, to improved quality and consistency.
So that’s the aim, but the way to develop to that automated state is by integrating various advances we hear about every day in technology; Cloud computing, the Internet of Things and Data Integration.
For a more detailed explanation of what Industry 4.0 is you can check out our blog post What is Industry 4.0?
In case you’re unfamiliar with the Internet of Things, it’s the concept of connecting our everyday items to the internet using the cloud. From mobile phones to washing machines, almost everything with an on/off switch can be involved in IoT and it is expected that by 2020, over 26 billion devices will be connected.
The IoT plays an important part in Industry 4.0. This is due to the sheer amount of data being generated and monitored in factories now. This data needs to be transferred between people and machines quickly, to keep the factory running. The Internet of Things provides a way for cyber-physical systems, software, and sensors, to seamlessly communicate with each other. Which allows more automated, consistent and streamlined processes in the digital and physical environment.
With this new revolution, comes the need for new skills that workers will need to have or be trained, in order to succeed. It won’t be as simple as hiring a good team of engineers alongside your IT guy, companies will need to search for experts within the industry who are already aware of the fast-moving evolution of Industry 4.0.
Knowledge is key for your company’s success with Industry 4.0. Not only will you need to understand what’s available, but also which aspects will be the best for your business to implement first and the strategy you will use to lead you to triumph.
Workers will need the technical skill set to redesign machine shops, implement tools and applications as well as make sense of all the industrial data. Many are calling these workers ‘data scientists’ and companies might need to train staff or hire new staff with these skill sets in order to optimise Industry 4.0 in their business.
Success in Industry 4.0 will largely depend on the collaboration between your company and other companies, organisations, universities and associations.
As the quality of products needs to be improved, you will discover the need to outsource any non-core activities, and concentrate on your core competencies. The more you collaborate with partners, the more you will be able to provide quality outputs, and reap the benefits that come with that.
Working with a partner to create new solutions for Industry 4.0 has brought success to a lot of companies now at the forefront of industry 4.0. With so many innovations and advancements being made all the time, finding the right partner can help identify new solutions, and remain flexible, without breaking the bank.
Hesitation is common when familiarising ourselves with a new revolution, due to fears and drawbacks. For Industry 4.0, the main concern is cost. Implementing these new technologies isn’t going to be cheap and in some cases, companies will need complete renovation on their production line, meaning huge investment into new systems.
So, is it worth it? Will the benefits of industry 4.0 really outweigh these challenges and effort required? The short answer is yes, but only if we invest in the right solutions that will last and benefit the business. The new systems will reduce operating costs, overheads, and staff costs over time, saving you money in the long run. However, one of the biggest advantages to come from this will be the information on data- which can provide big benefits to improve productivity and generate continuous sustainable improvements in all business areas, if it’s managed correctly.
In turn, factories will become more efficient, flexible, and sustainable. By connecting machines and systems, businesses are creating intelligent networks along the value chain to control each other autonomously.
So, while it may be costly for a big investment at first, those that invest big, will also win big in the long run.
Data security isn’t an option. We’ve seen how security breaches in IoT devices can be dangerous for not just your company but also the whole internet. By integrating new systems along with more access available, the danger of data security issues increase.
Therefore, it is essential to have a strong data security team, either in-house, or out-sourced, to secure your company’s data.
The last thing you want going in to this new revolution is a narrow mindset. If you think your company is fine how it is and doesn’t need any adjustments, it’s likely that you do need to broaden your perspective.
This way of thinking can lead to missing opportunities that advanced technology provides. As a company, you need to ensure you’re always looking for opportunities within industry 4.0 and make sure your employees are trained with the knowledge to prepare them for when these opportunities arise.
Customers. There was a time when making something good at a competitive price was enough to please your customers, however time has changed. Today, customers want to be co-producers of the products. This is a change that has come thanks to platforms like Amazon and eBay altering the way products are ordered, delivered and received. And manufacturing is no exception. The parts you produce are what the customer wants, and they want fast turnarounds, quicker deliveries, higher quality and the ability to order on mass.
Suppliers need to be easy to work with, too. There is a need to keep your customers informed at all times, and needing to run a report every time your customer requests a progress update, will leave you with no time to complete your jobs. You need to be able to communicate seamlessly with suppliers, and securely share data, dynamically, so they can track their order progress when they need it.
But this can’t work without sensors on your machines, software to track jobs, and analyse performance. You will need to invest in new technologies to ensure you retain your excellent supplier rating.
The pace in which technology is changing is unbelievable. It is essential that you keep on top of new developments and act quickly on opportunities rather than having a wait-and-see attitude. You may not have all the latest technology or advancements yet, but you can still apply what 10 you do have to the parts of your business, which can give you a competitive advantage and get you ahead of the game.
There are plenty of ways that you can do this without breaking the bank every time you upgrade though. You may find multiple applications for one piece of software. Also, investing in solutions that are able to scale as your demands change will also help ensure you don’t have to constantly implement new solutions. Finally, identifying the right technology partner, with a range of solutions may enable you to cover multiple bases and spend less on individual solutions.
Because access to information is now readily available, ideas are spreading quickly and multiple companies are coming up with the same products and solutions. Therefore, using innovative solutions to make parts and products may not be enough to separate you from your competition. This means that more knowledge and innovation may be required to set you aside from other companies and ensure your success.
With awareness of Industry 4.0 growing, it’s vital that your company is fully involved and making the effort to learn about potential opportunities. If you aren’t prepared and don’t have a strategic plan, it will be easy to fall behind.
After considering these 10 key facts about Industry 4.0, you can ensure that your business is ready to adopt the new technologies being released as a result of the movement. Don’t leave it too late to prepare and get left behind, as the industry speeds up.
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