Globalization and hyperconnectivity have created great opportunities for growth and development, allowing industries to reach more people with fewer resources. But it’s also created significant challenges, as businesses now need to make more customized products to satisfy ever-changing consumer needs. Manufacturing has become more competitive in the race to produce a higher-quality product while maximizing productivity and efficiency in the production process.
We’re witnessing a digital industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0. Companies are applying digital technologies to their manufacturing processes, integrating technologies such as smart devices and cloud computing. That allows, for example, for the modeling of a machine’s behavior as it’s working or for communication between different components of production equipment.
These components generate a large quantity of performance data such as life cycle, status, configuration, location, identity or serial number, which represent added value for businesses by allowing them to make decisions for the future based on the information extracted from this data.
In a smart factory the aim is to obtain, both in real time and in comparison with past performance, the information necessary to efficiently manage the entire production chain. To do so, it’s necessary to have a constant stream of data about its various processes and be able to identify areas for improvement. This analysis allows for reduced costs and enhanced productivity.
Of course, the environment is a key concern in this process: efforts are being made to minimize ecological footprints and emissions, to take care of the areas where we operate, and to reduce machine noise, among other initiatives.
Barriers to the development of Industry 4.0
The main barriers to the development of Industry 4.0 are those who fear change and who don’t want to adapt to the new demands of the market.
This mindset comes through in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset shared by many business owners who aren’t open to the new technologies and changes in their sector. They refuse to consider new proposals and initiatives that others are introducing to enhance productivity through remote management, even though doing so would reduce costs significantly and increase productivity.
Business owners lacking digital skills and experience may be even more hesitant to develop digital culture in their companies.
To guarantee a successful transition to Industry 4.0, though, businesses must act as the driving force. We’re finding that in many companies, senior management is out of touch with market trends, leaving the youngest employees to drive this digital transformation.
Benefits of the shift toward smart industries
There are many advantages of moving toward becoming a highly digitalized company.
Above all others is the improvement of manufacturing processes through more concrete and specific information about processes, which allows manufacturers to create customized settings that optimize performance.
Cost-cutting and process improvements lead both to more efficient use of machinery and materials as well as increased production, which together increase the production ratio and reduce the cost of the final product.
When a business obtains more complete and higher-quality information, it can perform more detailed analyses that enable smarter data-based decision-making.
How to encourage Industry 4.0
- Promote employee adaptability.
- Extend digitalization to all processes and departments so it becomes part of day-to-day business.
- Modify internal processes in order to adapt the company to this new phase.
- Use connected machines with sensors that monitor the activity of the machines.
- Manage data capturing, processing and analysis for interpretation by the company.
How can we get the digital industrial revolution started?
Any business, regardless of the sector or the product it produces, must establish an action plan that lays out how it will prepare and what it will offer its customers. We’ve established a set of guidelines for beginning the digitalization process:
- Design new 4.0 strategies and business models
- Define necessary skills
- Become familiar with the resources available in the company
- Establish a digital culture
- Create pilot projects
- Capture, collect, process and analyze the business’s data
- Follow and monitor the process in order to fine-tune it, modifying behavior where necessary and integrating new processes.
Becoming a 4.0 company requires patience and approaching change with a positive attitude. It’s best done gradually, introducing concepts in small doses in order to be sure the new path is the right one made with limited investment.
The final objective should be ambitious, digitizing and automating the majority of processes. In order to reach this goal, there’s no reason not to seek support in companies like ours, with a firmly established digitalization process. We aren’t able to take in all the information necessary for the transformation within the business; all that’s needed is the ability to utilize the new information that digitization provides.
If you’d like to know how we can help digitalize your business, contact us. We’ll offer tailored advice about the adaptations and changes you’ll need to make.
Start moving toward digitalization!