The drive to increase productivity and reduce costs in manufacturing environments has led to an exponential increase in the adoption of automation on factory floors. These networking and physical processes are what have characterized Industry 4.0, the 4th Industrial Revolution, which focuses primarily on artificial intelligence, machine learning, real-time data, and automation. Simply put, all these terms refer to the use of technologies to make the manufacturing process more agile, flexible and noticeable to customers.
McKinsey’s Digital Manufacturing Global Expert survey reveals that most manufacturing companies (68%) consider Industry 4.0 manufacturing initiatives to be their top priority.
The 4th industrial wave where machines infuse intelligence is an inevitable part of our lives. When you look around, you will realize we cannot function without technology! From retail and education to healthcare and finances, there is a high level of dependence on it. Especially the industrial sector has been incorporating gradually greater uses of automation and connectivity.
Yet, many businesses still struggle with the adoption successfully; for example, according to Industry Week, two of every three companies piloting digital manufacturing solutions flounder when moving to large-scale rollout. It begs the question: ''Why do many companies realize that transformation is necessary to reach the future of digital manufacturing, yet few have been able to grasp its potential at scale?''
Industry 4.0 is rife with challenges and benefits for the future. Let’s explore a few of those points here.
Industry 4.0 Challenges
Security: Threats in terms of existing and emerging vulnerabilities in the factory are a major concern. The physical and digital systems that makeup factories enable real-time interoperability, but it comes with the risk of an expanded attack surface. Some companies are not fully prepared to deal with these security threats and therefore companies need to implement powerful security systems.
Supply Chain: Industry 4.0 brings technologies, robots and systems closer to the JIT(Just in Time) manufacturing, therefore all components of the supply chain have to be synchronous. This also means that possible problems and risks need to be minimized. Otherwise, results may arise to cut production, as we see also in Covid-19 Pandemic.
Resources: Autonomy and enhanced Industry 4.0 technologies bring rapid production which means more products can be manufactured within the same amount of time easily. While state of art shows we need to decrease our resources, in terms of climate change emissions targets and regulations, and from the future perspective this need is essential.
Data Sensitivity: The increase in technological improvements has also led to rising concerns over data and IP privacy, and management. For instance, to successfully implement an AI algorithm, test&train data need to be shared. However, many companies are not willing to share their data with third-party solution developers. This represents a huge cybersecurity challenge in terms of data protection and intellectual property. Data is a powerful asset and you need to make sure to keep it secure.
Employment: Industry 4.0 is changing the employment landscape for employees to succeed in these changing roles. This employment environment is evolving all of the needs of the workforce. Repetitive task workers will face difficulties keeping up with the industry as it is driven by an autonomous machine running 24/7. Training will need to transform to keep up with the demands of a rapidly changing labor market.
Industry 4.0 Advantages
Competitive Advantage: Industry 4.0 has become essential for managing production lines in the manufacturing industry. So, Industry 4.0 solutions and services offer a wide range of competitive advantages for companies that are able to successfully actualize these new strategies and technologies. On the other hand, implementing Industry 4.0 can help avoid the issue of surplus production.
Productivity Growth: Studies revealed that the implementation of industry 4.0 can help enhance the productivity of the manufacturing industries. It provides even more profitability for companies that are able to squeeze greater output from the same resource input with Industry 4.0 solutions. Repetitive tasks of the companies can also be performed by smart machines. As a result of it, more goods can be produced within a limited time and the production rate of the companies increases.
New Approaches: Maintaining the increased production rate or profitability while trying to increase resource efficiency will bring new method developments to the factories and businesses. To reach the emission targets companies will be involved in R&D studies of sustainable materials, new production methods, etc. To maintain profitability it's possible for new jobs, business models, approaches to be born.
Better Services: Using smart machines and automation technologies in production can help improve the quality of the products as the chances of human errors in producing goods can be avoided. The improvement of product quality helps to incrase the satisfaction level of the customers. Along with ensuring product quality, safety or customer experience, Industry 4.0 will give companies greater visibility and efficiency, allowing them to continue driving value for customers to retain business.
According to The Wall Street Journal; ''trailblazers are pioneering factory-related innovation, dedicating a whopping 65% of their global factory budget to smart factory initiatives.'' They also reported an average of 20% improvement in production output, employee productivity and factory capacity utilization over the past three years.''
Your Next Step
Companies that adopt Industry 4.0 technologies early will obtain a significant competitive advantage. The fourth industrial revolution will bring about some dramatic changes in manufacturing plants and many incredible benefits for forward-thinking businesses.
As Khenda, we invite you to continue to research digital transformation and develop a better understanding of strategies for driving the next generation of efficiency and growth.
To learn more about taking actionable steps to advance into Industry 4.0, contact us! email@example.com