Is your factory getting smarter?
Why Industry 4.0?
Today, a fourth industrial revolution is disrupting our lives, societies, economy and jobs. Often called Industry 4.0, this trend refers to the fusion of the physical and the digital realms, brought on by technology and enabled by advances in the availability of data, hardware components and software versatility.
As a result, people, things and enterprises are all better informed and more capable of intelligent decision-making than ever before.
What happened to Industry 2.0 and 3.0?
The first onset of industrialization began at the end of the 18th century (Industry 2.0) with the invention of steam power and the ability to mass produce goods, which followed almost a century later. Industry 3.0 commenced in the 70’s when computational power developments allowed us to build connected machines. Both of these global shifts ultimately led to where we are today – faster, more efficient and more intelligent, thanks to how we work with data.
Creating smart factories
Industry 4.0 is already affecting numerous aspects of modern life and just like Industry 2.0 and 3.0, it, too, has a significant impact on business, and, you guessed right… industry. Whereas manufacturing facilities were already automated prior to Industry 4.0, they were not able to make any decisions independently of humans.
Someone wearing a lab coat and sitting at the plant’s office had to predefine what, how much and when to produce. The machines, none the wiser, simply worked and made what they were told, without asking any questions. When they produced too much of the wrong item, the man in the lab coat was to blame, and things would usually carry on the same way.
Today, through IoT (the Internet of Things) and cloud computing, factories are getting smart, cyber-physical systems communicate with each other and with people in real time. Machines are capable of making most manufacturing decisions without guidance. They know what’s best for the enterprise because they are informed and they have access to important data that affects their operations directly.
Transparency in enterprises
Gone are the days when every department meticulously protected their own data and analytics, existing in silos. The organizations of the future share data across participants in the value chain, ensuring intelligence is available to everyone who needs to make any decisions, from the simplest to the most complex. Connected robots, production lines, technicians and machine operators all have access to it, and they are trained on how to use it. This ensures not only the most optimal production schedules and cycles but also the best manufacturing outcomes, in line with current market demand.
Strong customer focus
Collaboration in a connected world is easier than ever because everyone has access to the same set of data and is working towards the same end goals. The focus now is on the end consumers and their needs, which inform all areas of the organization and shape their raison d’etre.
In emerging markets, factories are still disconnected, raw materials are costly and in short supply. Applying the principles of Industry 4.0 and remodelling those types of production environments to incorporate reliance on data, could be a major game-changer.
Investments in solutions
Investments and innovations in the manufacturing sector are sure to bring on many improvements in various sectors and can be further amplified by advances in data analytics and AI. Factors like data security and edge computing are becoming more important when developing future-proof, integrated solutions.
Staffing smart factories
Making the most of intelligent, networked systems and automated production environments requires the recruitment and retention of knowledge workers – tech savvy, new generation engineers and architects who can work across hardware platforms and programming languages to make the most of this unprecedented level of connectivity. Finding them isn’t always easy or cost-effective and that’s when outsourcing these services to experienced, professional teams becomes a more viable option.
Copywriting: Ina Danova