This is an exciting time to be a forward-looking manufacturer. We’re entering a new era that’s being dubbed the Fourth Industrial Revolution …
It’s a world in which everything is connected.
Smart factories improve productivity and efficiency while a wealth of data offers insights for continuous improvement across the supply chain. The future is most-promising for those who adapt to change and adopt strategies for successful digital transformation (DX).
The question that remains, however, is how to effectively transition from where your manufacturing operation is now to one that embraces the opportunities knocking on your door.
To understand how we’ve arrived at the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it helps to look at how far manufacturing has come over the last 250 years, including how quickly technology accelerated change.
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many hand production methods were replaced by machines such as the loom. James Watt’s steam engine entered the scene, powering productivity in factories just as mechanization increased agricultural output. This sent people to cities looking for work, causing a shift from agrarian societies to widespread urbanization.
Following the American Civil War, the expansion of railroads and steel production brought about another revolution. It was a time characterized by electrification and processes that improved mass production. The U.S. meatpacking industry is credited with being among the first to use assembly lines, which were perfected by Henry Ford and Ford Motor Co.
Beginning in the 1970s, this era is known as the Digital Revolution, and it signaled the start of the Information Age. Advancements such as personal computing, the internet and mobile phones gave birth to information technology (IT). Industries shifted from the use of analog electronics to digital solutions. Computers and advanced robotics also opened the door for automation in the modern factory.
The next phase of manufacturing will be an evolution of the Digital Age led by the advantages of connectivity in the cloud. It includes the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and in-depth analytics. Physical and digital technologies are combining to create networks that drive decision-making, impacting your processes, employees and society at large.
The most innovative manufacturers have already begun implementing Industry 4.0 technology into their operations. In food & beverage for example, factors including shifts in consumer preferences, demands of the ecommerce supply chain, regulatory compliance, increased competition and the requirements of major retailers are prompting searches for innovative IT solutions.
With the right strategy, smart
manufacturing has the potential to:
Improve supply chain traceability and transparency
Reduce downtime and boost production
Increase speed to market
Decrease labor costs
Expand quality control efforts
Enhance productivity and efficiency
Support new product development
Provide data-driven insights
But you need to
walk before you
can run …
Is your organization prepared to embrace the disruption that comes with Industry 4.0?
According to Deloitte’s survey of 1,600 C-level executives, only 14 percent are highly confident in their company’s ability to take advantage of emerging technology associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The Deloitte survey uncovered common answers ranging from lack of internal alignment concerning which strategies to pursue, to the absence of a vision from leadership, a focus on short-term thinking and failure to effectively collaborate with external partners.
IT departments and solutions providers must play a pivotal role in the transition to Industry 4.0, because this revolution begins with a comprehensive view of data across value chains, as well as a dependence on cloud computing and storage.
Without a firm foundation upon which to build and integrate new technologies, the impact of these industrial breakthroughs cannot be fully realized. Your organization needs you to help pave the way for Industry 4.0 by laying out a strategic roadmap for key digital transformations.
The right IT solutions have the power to give manufacturers the confidence needed to implement new technology while addressing risks and navigating roadblocks that impede progress.
As an IT leader, your vision will clear the way for Industry 4.0 …
However, there are several key issues on which you’ll need to focus:
How will you move your organization away from legacy systems?
How will you integrate platforms and modernize applications in the cloud?
How will you tackle cyber security concerns?
How will you maximize in-house talent and capabilities?
How will you manage accessibility and data visibility?
How will you help the company leverage data into business insights?
Continue exploring the move towards Industry 4.0 below. Find out more about the specific risks, impressive opportunities and initial steps manufacturers must take to be prepared for the changes ahead. We’ll look at the exciting promises of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, roadblocks and challenges facing IT leaders, and a way to build a path toward the future.