The fourth industrial revolution: the future of manufacturing
Manufacturers are in the midst of a new industrial revolution, one that will shape the future of the entire industry. It’s called Industry 4.0.
The mission of Industry 4.0 is to minimise downtime, neglect, waste, and inefficiency through employing innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT) within manufacturing. Using data from connected operations and production systems to learn and adapt to new demands will lead to the creation of ‘smart factories’.
Data is key to helping manufacturers understand how they can find ways to disrupt the market and enhance their full potential. Learning how to leverage Industry 4.0 will enable business leaders to gain a competitive edge against their competitors and optimise their product offerings. By doing so, they boost their customers’ satisfaction and launch their manufacturing business forward.
The four pillars of a successful Industry 4.0 strategy
To successfully leverage Industry 4.0, manufacturers should consider these four pillars:
- People – Now that many tasks once manually carried out by people are being automated by AI and robots, it’s important to understand that humans are still key players. Industry 4.0 means that the skills of people are needed more than ever to reap the rewards of new technology. Business leaders will need to ensure that their people are trained in new skills and requirements such as a knowledge of automation, data, analytics, programming, and software in conjunction with traditional manufacturing practices.
- Software – the applications created by software partners to complement the hardware will drive Industry 4.0 further. These systems can be leveraged to support all areas of business – with sales, inventory, production, accounting, and finance being of particular importance. It will provide you with a central database and core functionality to automate business-critical operations.
- Hardware – for software to thrive, the hardware it is dependent on must get faster and more powerful. Machinery is at the heart of manufacturing and ensure that your products are made, so this must remain a key priority.
- Connectivity – the future of the manufacturing businesses will be transformed through big data. This allows devices to interact and drive innovation further, and without this level of connectivity, IoT – and therefore Industry 4.0 – would not be possible.
How can businesses implement Industry 4.0?
Once manufacturing businesses understand the impact that Industry 4.0 will have on improving their operations and refining their strategies, they can begin thinking about implementation. This checklist outlines the areas to consider when implementing Industry 4.0:
- Create a team of data specialists from different backgrounds to build a pool of collective intelligence.
- Convert and cleanse your existing data.
- Implement technology by starting small. Even small innovations can greatly influence your ability to exceed customer expectations through predictive maintenance.
- Assess existing processes to define and document the ways your data processes run. After they have been mapped out, they can be integrated into your chosen technology project plan.
- Test and measure any new implementations to gauge their impact.
- Define what your business’ needs are and keep your findings focused on those objectives. Look for opportunities to customise as well as room for scale as you compare solutions.
- Design a plan with your SaaS provider to ensure best practices and support.
- Continuously improve to ensure that your technology, employees, and processes have the flexibility to react to industry changes in real time.
- Stabilise and revise your processes as needed.
Moving manufacturing businesses to the cloud
Implementing cloud connectivity within your business helps to support the operational structure that is needed to achieve optimal efficiency, making it a key component of Industry 4.0.
Moving to the cloud or similar hybrid architectures helps businesses to unify disparate systems and teams, thus accelerating their digital transformation. Aberdeen research has found that many early adopters of cloud technology are reaping benefits such as faster implementation, increased scalability, easier deployment, and overall more efficiency in total lifecycle costs.
It’s benefits such as these that accelerate the digital transformation process, and adopters often consider other Industry 4.0 services as a critical part of their business strategy.
The time has come for manufacturers to modernise their processes and embrace the power of Industry 4.0. Migrating services to the cloud is a key step in achieving this, and manufacturers must implement a cloud-connected management solution that not only meets expectations by improving processes, but also helps the business to stay current and support its continued growth and expansion.
Learn more about what Industry 4.0 can do for manufacturing and how embracing data-powered solutions can help you gain more competitive advantages. Read the full report by downloading below.