Several decades after the emergence of computers and the associated automation in what marked the Third Industrial Revolution — or Industry 3.0 — the world is once again experiencing a transformation in every sector. This is brought about by the introduction of a smart, autonomous infrastructure that’s built on machine learning and data collection.
This is Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by access to vast amounts of information that facilitate decision making in business. This information can boost productivity, cash flow projections, inventory management, digital marketing, and so much more, all of which improve your business.
Many entrepreneurs are wary of the introduction of Industry 4.0 technologies into business, largely because of the associated costs and complexity of algorithms. Yet, manufacturers stand to gain immensely from its adoption, with benefits ranging from increased productivity and product quality to revenue growth and customer satisfaction.
Through digital transformation, manufacturers have greater access to data, which allows for greater levels of communication and connectivity, resulting in gains in productivity and efficiency. The constantly growing network of smart machines and factories enhances the impact of Industry 4.0 even further.
Why Manufacturers Need Data
Industry 4.0 is the age of technology, characterized by the emergence of big data, advanced analytics, the Internet of Things, and robotics. It has given rise to “smart factories” that use data from interconnected operations to learn and adapt to dynamic demands.
The result is a connection between suppliers, partners, distributors, and customers. This is courtesy of the networked machines being operated by a highly skilled workforce, with the aim of achieving ‘perfect production’ with reduced waste, neglect, downtime, and inefficiency.
With Industry 4.0, manufacturers can achieve:
1. Increased productivity
According to a recent survey by BDC, 60% of 1,000 early adopters of digital technologies in manufacturing claim that the biggest benefit is the increased productivity. The boost in productivity in smart factories can be attributed to the capability to forecast and prevent downtime and to optimize the effectiveness of machinery and maintenance.
Manufacturers can also use digital technologies to boost employee efficiency. The sensors integrated into the assembly lines help to keep track of the items that have been produced, those that are defective, and the amount of time taken for each production session. By using this data, it’s possible to identify the specific areas that need polishing and the specific staff who need the training or guidance.
2. Lower operating costs
The survey by BDC also revealed that 50% of entrepreneurs using digital technology claim that it helped to improve the efficiency of their operations. Businesses using Industry 4.0 technologies can achieve savings by:
- Reducing the cost of labour and improving throughput due to higher automation
- Preventing expensive repairs and unscheduled downtime due to predictive maintenance
- Reducing waste by allowing production monitoring and quality control in real-time
- Reducing the cost of engineering by using 3D printers for faster prototyping, and ultimately achieving a faster-time-to-market
3. Better product quality
According to the study by BDC, 42% of the respondents identified improved product quality from the integration of digital technologies. With real-time access to data and quality control, manufacturers can easily review data from the different stages of production that affect product quality.
This means that managers can evaluate employee influence on production at a certain point, or how changing heat levels interfere with quality. When such information is collected over time, it can help to minimize or even eliminate the incidence of defective or incomplete products that would result in customer returns.
4. Competitive advantage
Manufacturers who have implemented digital technologies have forecasted greater annual revenue growth by at least 10% over the next couple of years, compared to their non-adopter counterparts. This is because the adopters can leverage the technology to provide better services, making them more competitive in their industry.
For instance, food processors working with multinational suppliers can use a secure online platform to place orders and choose the nearest warehouse for quick access. The warehouse personnel can then invoice the client and ship the ordered products through an automated process that not only minimizes the business operations workload but also enhances fulfillment time and promotes customer satisfaction.
5. Increased innovation
Several manufacturers also claim that digital technologies improve their capacity to innovate, which helps to unlock more opportunities using available resources. The advanced technologies and smart products make it possible to create new business models, such as 3D printing, which are expected to spark innovations over the next decade.
Staying updated on the newest Industry 4.0 developments in your respective sector is key to the ongoing success of your business. The primary technologies include:
Internet of Things
It represents the combination of physical objects such as sensors, software, and electronic gadgets with the internet and data collection to facilitate real-time communication. For instance, IoT can promote transparency in inventory management systems.
This refers to the systems in place that allow businesses to collect and analyze the vast amount of data generated from IoT to allow targeted decision making.
These are widely used in the manufacturing sector and include the automated mechanical arms commonly found in assembly lines. These are likely to increase with Industry 4.0.
Augmented reality and 3D printing are already quite popular, allowing for virtual modelling and testing to save time and accelerate time to market.
Emerging digital technologies present numerous opportunities for manufacturing businesses to stay competitive and establish themselves as industry leaders. The popularity of smart devices, higher internet speeds, and greater connectivity is evident from the rate at which consumers are adopting smart home applications.
Though integrating them into existing operations requires time, money, and effort, the payoffs for using real-time data to make strategic business decisions can be amazing. Early adopters of the new technologies stand to benefit a lot in terms of productivity and efficiency from Industry 4.0, propelling them far ahead of their competitors.
The amount of data that businesses can access is a lot, and may even seem overwhelming at first. Still, with the help of professional analytics, they can define the important data they need to capture. As well, it can help detect the right frequency for review and decision making. Industry 4.0 technologies will put your business ahead of those using their gut for decision making instead of real-time data and facts.
To learn more about how our products can integrate data collection, call Delta Regis at 1-888-733-3142 or contact us here.