Why is Industry 4.0 important?
Among those familiar with the term Industry 4.0, there is much scepticism about its practical applications and whether it is just hype or a trend that is likely to take off and produce tangible results. Industry 4.0 envelops the recent movement towards automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies.
It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things and cloud computing.
For a factory plant or a manufacturing system to be operating under the rules prescribed in Industry 4.0, it must integrate interoperability, information transparency, technical assistance and decentralised decision-making.
Why add intelligence to current processes and equipment?
Virtually any factory or industrial facility can be outfitted to Industry 4.0 standards by incorporating accessible computing technology.
The devices needed to make factories smart are within reach even for medium-sized, traditional industries and manufacturing sites, now more than ever.
A 2016 executive survey by PwC revealed that companies across every industry sector expect significant cost reductions from digitisation in processes, by the year 2020.
A 2015 article by McKinsey urges companies to adopt a ‘’2-speed’’ data architecture and start preparing for the digital transformation if they haven’t done so already, including but not limited to developing plans to tackle the lack of digital talent, outdated organisational structures, data management, and cybersecurity, among others.
Next, we look at the specific areas where factory operations stand to benefit from the adoption of Industry 4.0 principles and technology.
Add value by enhancing products and machines with IoT intelligence
There are many industrial uses for the ubiquitous IoT (Internet of Things) and cloud computing concepts today: tracking of goods and people, real-time status updates, equipment health checks and failure notifications, self-aware products and machines that know when they need supplies or maintenance, and many more.
The advances in technology that we’ve experienced in the past 5 years, enable unprecedented insights into all aspects of production and operation processes.
Making final products smart can add value for consumers without adding significant costs or overhead for your business. Smart sensors, location-detection technologies, wireless connectivity, authentication and cloud storage are all very accessible and can be easily added to various machines and processes in the value chain, ranging from production line equipment robots to packaging.
Complete digitisation and integration of your industrial value chain
Due to the advanced in technology we looked at above, the full digital transformation of the industrial value chain is no longer a farfetched futuristic idea, rather, it is steadily becoming ‘’business as usual’’ and a must-have for modern industry. There is no better time to optimise your entire industrial manufacturing processes, including but not limited to production, automation, quality control, equipment operations and maintenance, supply chain and logistics.
Additional benefits of making your processes smarter include new value propositions for your services and expertise and increases in team motivation and efficiency, to name a few.
Digitalise your maintenance & installation operations
Adding IoT capabilities or wireless connectivity to your maintenance and installation processes can noticeably reduce human error rates,
equipment or installation failures, raw material shortages and lack of productivity for line-style or robotic manufacturing processes.
Naturally, this can translate into sizable drops in costs.
Collect & analyse valuable data
Thanks to inexpensive technology, data can now be collected from the full process chain in your enterprise via the Internet of Things.
Having data is great but means little if it isn’t processed and analysed in order to fuel sophisticated forecasting, planning, decision-making and measuring processes that humans alone will be hard-pressed to achieve.
How smart is your factory?
Let’s hypothesize that you’ve made important processes in your factory smart and are already collecting and storing the needed data with the help of sensors.
Still, machines need to be given input and made smart before they can automate and replace human decision-making capabilities.
This is where enterprise software firms like Verhaert Digital come into play by helping you build self-awareness and robust problem-solving into previously ‘’dumb’’ parts of the value chain.
Artificial Intelligence and IoT make little sense without the complex decisions that need to be integrated into algorithms responsible for driving machines and processes in the smart factory. Verhaert Digital has experience in building IoT and cloud-based apps and software solutions needed to successfully implement Industry 4.0 principles for enterprises and industrial facilities across various sectors. We can assist by developing sophisticated custom code to maximize available smart technology.
It is perhaps too soon to proclaim that we are facing another industrial revolution, however, Industry 4.0 has the potential to enact lasting, positive change in how factories operate. Decision makers ought to carefully monitor new developments and develop strategies that take advantage of these new opportunities to remain competitive.
Dealing with some unclear questions? Or just being curious? Let us know; we’d gladly have a talk!