The Fourth Industrial Revolution is coming. Big changes are coming to all industries and Industry 4.0 promises a disruptive and challenging period of operational and structural change for industry leaders. The fourth industrial revolution is about machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics and most importantly, utilising data to better inform every aspect of an organisation.
Part one of this series looked at What is Industry 4.0? The second part of our blog series looks at 4 key benefits the new technology can bring to an organisation.
Part Two: What can Industry 4.0 bring to business?
Sometimes technological developments don’t appear to hold immediate business benefits. In fact that was a legitimate view point towards the technology that has fallen under the banner of ‘internet of things’. This is where Industry 4.0 breaks free of just being a technology based development. It is the bringing together of all of the technological breakthroughs to deliver tangible business benefits. Some leading organisations are already embracing these benefits and have developed Smart Factories. Companies like BMW and Sharp Electronics leading the way in the world of manufacturing. However the vast majority of organisations are still only just starting their adoption of new technologies, let alone their journey to becoming an integrated smart factory. Unlike previous industrial revolutions, industry 4.0 should not be seen as an instant disrupter but more of an evolution. From our perspective, there are 4 key areas for this evolution:
- Getting Value out of Data
- Organisational Connectivity
- New Business Models
Getting Value out of Data
An organisation, on any given day, will generate gigabytes, even terabytes, of information. This data is generated from a range of business operations. From stock, production, leads, marketing, customer information, market intelligence, financial data, surplus quantities and more. This data, if left unmanaged, can become inaccurate. However, by utilising Industry 4.0 principles and beginning a process of joining together the data points via ERP applications and more intuitive business intelligence platforms and apps a business can leverage increasing value from their data over time. By using big data and data points from the full range of sources, businesses can understand critical issues within their own business models and can understand the efficiencies, risks and problems within their own organisation.
Communication is always key. The process of breaking down the common experience of siloed working and allowing information to flow throughout the organisation with purpose has been an on going struggle for manufacturing for many years. Better organisational connectivity is one of the touchpoints of industry 4.0 and by connecting every department with each other. The benefits of interdepartmental connectivity allows for the development of understanding of how each area impacts on the others. Allowing every department to learn and develop on their organisational strengths and weakness.
The next technological evolution will move away from automation in favour of autonomy. This will become central to industry and is central to the ideas of Industry 4.0. Automation is the process of automatically building or managing a process within a sequence on a production line. This means multiple automation outputs are required for sequences to be complete. However, Autonomy refers to the innovative practice of equipment that can perform programmable tasks without human guidance. This means that the sequence defined factory environment could be disrupted by singular devices undertaking all of the tasks as oppose to traditional embedded devices working on a single process. This new experience of autonomous equipment or devices will create a framework of industrial output and this disruption underpins Industry 4.0.
New Business Models
Business models are changing rapidly. Disruption, courtesy of Industry 4.0, will force manufacturers to evolve. The traditional model is changing and new models are starting to emerge. New business models require manufacturers to evolve and this means looking at the model of a business in a way that utilises the changing structures of operations which means looking at platforms that are robust enough to withstand the changes. Finally, the monetization of data is also another issue that will change the business models of manufacturing organisations as they start to understanding data streams and their true value.
These are just 4 of the key benefits that Industry 4.0 holds currently. However, the principles and technology of Industry 4.0 intrinsically lead to more developments and more benefits further down the line. This is why it is important to not think of Industry 4.0 as a single project. It is not a certificate or accreditation that can be ticked off. To ensure your organisation remains competitive and has the ability to incorporate and adapt to technology in the future, you must prepare for the required changes to your business now.
Our final part of our Industry 4.0 series looks at the direct impact on an organisations, people, processes and systems. You can subscribe to our blog below