Today most production managers are participating in a race, whether they know it or not. It’s the race to adopt and implement new manufacturing systems and technologies.
While adopting new technology is always challenging, this process is made more difficult by the fact that most factories already have a set of systems in place. These systems tend to be somewhat rigid, and may actively resist change, even when it’s for the better of the company. This, combined with the sheer pace of technological adaptation, creates an environment within which most manufacturing companies struggle to implement new technology.
Fortunately, it’s possible for manufacturing executives and leaders to implement technological change while also developing a company culture that will promote efficiency and improvement for years to come. The secret is Industry 4.0. Wondering how it works or why it matters? You’re not alone.
Here’s what you need to know about how to implement Industry 4.0 for your manufacturing operations.
Why Industry 4.0 is Important
Today, the market defines whether a company remains competitive or not, and brands that adopt Industry 4.0 have a much better chance than their competitors.
The term Industry 4.0 refers to a set of transformative innovations in the digital technology space. These innovations will create a manufacturing sector that is far different from that which had existed previously.
The focus of Industry 4.0 is integration and collaboration. In recent years, various technologies have combined to pave the way for advanced robotics, the Internet-of-Things, SaaS platforms, machine learning, and other such advancements. Industry 4.0 serves as a layer of integration that unites these innovations.
Industry 4.0 represents the fourth Industrial Revolution. It follows in the footsteps of the third Industrial Revolution, which involved the development of computers and the internet.
Today, manufacturers around the globe are connecting machines to the cloud and developing customized versions of their own industrial IoT as a first step towards Industry 4.0. Although they are just scratching the surface of the untapped potential of Industry 4.0, they are creating a foundation for ongoing growth and scalability in the future.
What Came Before Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 is the next Industrial Revolution. Riding high on the heels of the Industrial Revolutions before it, Industry 4.0 looks to be as monumental as the first industrial revolution. If you would like to learn more about this, you can refer to our recent blog on the topic.
The first Industrial Revolution came about in the 1700s. It was sparked by the emergence of the steam engine and mechanical loom. This revolution changed transportation and commerce forever. The current industrial revolution focuses on integration and collaboration which allows disparate technologies to work together cohesively.
In the 20th century, production and electricity became commonplace and widespread, and the second Industrial Revolution was born. The invention of the computer gave rise to the third Industrial Revolution, and we are now entering the fourth Industrial Revolution – the evolution of digital technologies and advanced computing solutions.
The previous Industrial Revolutions were sparked by the invention of physical technology, like new machines, but the latest Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0, is driven instead by new ways to process and utilize information for more efficient decision making. Industry 4.0 is represented by the development of digitization, including cloud and remote computing, IoT, connected devices, AI and machine learning.
In this Industrial Revolution, there’s not a single platform or technology that is fueling the movement alone. Instead, it’s a profoundly collective approach. While the technologies are deployed separately, they work collectively to form the basis of our modern virtual world.
The Importance of Maturity
According to Gartner, there are five stages of supply chain maturity. These are as follows: react, anticipate, integrate, collaborate, orchestrate. The react stage involves a focus on revenue, the anticipate stage involves analyzing goals and metrics, the integrate stage involves considering cross-functional trade-offs, the collaborate stage means looking at extended networks, and the orchestrate stage involves creating custom solutions. As a general rule, companies that are best-positioned to adopt Industry 4.0 initiatives are in at least the third stage of Gartner’s maturity scale.
Ultimately, maturity relies on integration and collaboration. Successful manufacturing organizations need to have the different people, equipment, and processes that comprise their end-to-end supply chain working together efficiently. Industry 4.0 enables organizations to not only handle the complexity driven by the demands of mass product personalization but also to respond to changes in their supply chain more quickly and effectively. This is a critical benefit and serves to make companies more competitive.
When manufacturing decision-makers think about Industry 4.0 today, the conversation typically sounds a bit like, “Do we have a choice? How long can we wait?”
Now is an excellent time to get involved with Industry 4.0 and be a part of the movement that is helping to change the industry.
6 Steps to Implement Industry 4.0
Curious how you can adopt Industry 4.0 for your industry? Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Understand Your Starting Position
Before you can move forward into Industry 4.0 adoption, you must understand your starting position.
This means reviewing your present state of maturity and identify areas where your team can improve maturity efforts. This lays the foundation for successful adoption throughout your organization and will make it easier for the implementation to flow.
2. Focus on Industry 3.0 First
Adopting Industry 3.0 principles is a great place to begin. While it may seem counterintuitive to adopt new technologies by focusing on older ones, this is important to get ready for Industry 4.0. The reason is simple: most companies aren’t prepared to implement Industry 4.0 just yet because they have yet to implement Industry 3.0, which is a prerequisite to Industry 4.0.
That doesn’t mean companies can’t start moving towards it. Adopting Industry 3.0 principals is a great place to begin.
Here are a few of the things your team should be focusing on as you determine industry 3.0 gaps:
- Management Buy-In. Adopting Industry 3.0 principles as starting position for Industry 4.0 requires your entire team to be onboard with the changes and adaptations. Because of this, securing management buy-in should be one of the first steps in this journey.
- Connect OT and IT. For Industry 4.0 to work effectively for your organization, your information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) departments must work hand-in-hand. If your OT department doesn’t integrate fully with your Industry 3.0 changes for example, the entire effort may be jeopardized as you move forward. For example, an integrated production scheduling system needs to be in place before the Industry 3.0 vision can be realized. The collection of manufacturing data on it’s own does suffice, but within the context of an integrated scheduling system it can be used to support integration of IT and OT and increase production efficiency. More importantly, it will support autonomous scheduling when the organization is ready to implement Industry 4.0 supply chain enhancements. The scheduling system is the essential enabler across the various disciplines in the supply chain.
- Start Small. Avoid overwhelming your company and team by starting small with your Industry 3.0 adoption. Remember that this represents, in many cases, significant changes and starting small helps limit stress and promote adoption.
3. Create a Strategy
You wouldn’t set out on a long road trip without a map, and you shouldn’t move to adopt Industry 4.0 without a defined strategy. This is a critical part of the process. Once you’ve defined your level of target maturity, it’s essential to lay out a detailed implementation plan that will help you achieve your objectives.
This serves several essential purposes. Not only does it help you address potential roadblocks that may arise, but it makes it easier to promote acceptance and navigate possible qualms in the team when it comes to Industry 4.0 adoption.
4. Start Small
Avoid rushing into Industry 4.0. Since some challenges are much more significant than others, it is best to progress one challenge at a time. With this in mind, pick a challenge, solve it, and then show the organization how you resolved it.
Once you’ve succeeded here, you can move on to the next pain point, and the next. While this may seem like a fragmented approach, it’s critical to ensuring long-term success and providing the strong foundation needed for a comprehensive and durable Industry 4.0 rollout.
5. Create a Friendly Ecosystem
If your organization isn’t ready for Industry 4.0, it’ll reject it. With this in mind, your organization must create a manufacturing ecosystem wherein the physical and the digital elements of your business communicate.
This will create an Industry 4.0-friendly landing pad and is one of the many things that’s essential for a comprehensive and successful implementation. As a bonus, the process of creating this ecosystem will also expose cracks in your organization that may need attention and process change.
6. Focus on Improving Processes
The ultimate goal of Industry 4.0 is to improve manufacturing processes. With that in mind, it is smart to focus on end-to-end process improvement and anything else that will promote collaboration, from hardware to systems to personnel issues.
This may mean investing more in education and training, promoting process automation, and exploring hardware and software that can promote a streamlined business. This is the only way to access the autonomous processes that are so famous within the Industry 4.0 landscape for streamlining operations.
Industry 4.0: The Next Big Thing for Manufacturing
The manufacturing industry has seen many new developments in recent years. Industry 4.0 merely represents the most recent inception of these developments. A comprehensive and cohesive suite of technologies, Industry 4.0 has the potential to change the entire tide of the manufacturing industry. It also stands to develop a reality wherein automation is standard, and factories are smarter than ever before.
Industry 4.0 sets out to collect vast amounts of data across a wide scope of activities. Within the production environment, manufacturing scheduling software is a key enabler in using the collected data and turning this into actionable output that feeds the connected supply chain. Optessa offers intelligent manufacturing scheduling software and will be the cornerstone towards autonomous decision making for the smart factory.
Ready to start implementing Industry 4.0 with intelligent production scheduling software. Request a live demo of Optessa software today!