With the digital revolution changing the way businesses operate across all sectors, it is no surprise that companies within the manufacturing sector are beginning to turn to industry 4.0 systems to automate and accelerate both production and service processes.
What is Industry 4.0?
It is the automation of internal processes, relying heavily on technology and cyber-physical systems to transfer raw data across the Internet of Things and Internet of People to allow a more autonomous system of processes, with minimum human interaction. It is based on 4 principles:
Machines and technology to communicate flawlessly, transferring data, information and instruction across the system to ensure seamless operation.
Using sensor data to create a virtual version of the physical world – providing accurate information and more reliable results due to the available precision.
Technology – Human Assistance
Technology becomes more useful for the humans involved in the production chain, as it produces highly reliable results thanks to accurate data processing and the ability to perform actions which human cannot. Meanwhile, human interaction enables better technological results due to efficient handling of physical issues and problem solving – effectively keeping the system running.
Industry 4.0 systems are able to ‘#make decisions’ using carefully scripted processes. However, these processes are also tuned to recognise when a decision should be referred to a higher – more human – level of seniority.
Getting Started with Industry 4.0
- Develop a Strategy
All business and technology leaders know the importance of designing a strong, flexible and adaptable strategy before making any major changes to the way a business operates. Before sitting down to craft the strategy for your business’ Industry 4.0 integration, make sure to get all high-level staff members on board and consider the way in which the integration of Industry 4.0 processes may affect their departments. It is also worth considering asking for professional support during the planning phase – at Optimum we offer advice, planning and experienced input at every stage of the integration process.
- Introduce Staff to Industry 4.0 – and each other
Industry 4.0 connects a companies’ operations and technology in a tight bond, so the first step toward integrating Industry 4.0 in the food and drink sector is getting everybody in the business on board. Once Industry 4.0 is fully integrated, operations, manufacturing and technology staff will be working closely together to keep everything running smoothly, so now is the time to ensure that each department can work seamlessly with other departments they may not have had to co-operate so closely with before. Introducing Industry 4.0 concepts to employees whilst integrating departments allows time to iron out any difficulties before the full launch of Industry 4.0 operations.
- Start Small …
By introducing Industry 4.0 technology and processes gradually, it enables people to grow with the innovation, adjusting and solving issues steadily. If a business introduces too many new processes and too much new technology at once, it can interrupt the usual productivity and can cause large-scale issues which are not as easy to solve as the smaller-scale issues faced during the gradual introduction of new operations.
- … But Think Big
We’re all for starting small. But to leverage the full potential of Industry 4.0, you need to think big. So whilst it’s prudent to feel your way gradually in to the Industry 4.0 journey – you should really commit to the big, game changing initiatives that will have the biggest impact on your business.
- Listen to Feedback and be Inclusive
Making time for all departments to feed back into the Industry 4.0 integration process will make the transition much easier for everybody involved. Many of the technologies and processes will be completely new to some staff members, and they may need help to develop the skills necessary to keep up with the changes to their job roles. It can be easy to focus all efforts on the IT and technology-focused departments during a massive technological change, but it is important to be mindful of the manual labour, administration and customer-facing roles as they adjust to new systems also.
- Remain Flexible
The first stages of Industry 4.0 integration will be a learning curve for everyone involved in the business’ activities, so remain flexible and adaptable to any possible changes or issues which may arise. Remember that strategies need to be strong, but leave room for flexibility where it might be needed.
Industry 4.0 & Manufacturing
Industry 4.0 processes work to speed up internal production, automate simple decision making and carry out tasks which are either unsuitable or hindering for humans. The benefits of introducing Industry 4.0 technology to manufacturing include:
- Faster Processing Times – By automating certain actions, such as collecting and relaying orders to the manufacturing departments, service speed is improved and the business can increase production.
- Preparation for The Future – As more and more companies adopt new technologies, those businesses who continue to use more traditional processes will eventually fall behind and struggle to regain their position in the market.
- Increased efficiency & reduced waste – Investing in Industry 4.0 technologies early will allow businesses to integrate the new processes gradually, which saves them from halting production completely to introduce big changes at once.This can potentially reduce costs moving forward.
- Increased Customer Satisfaction – With faster service times, better communication processes and overall improved customer experiences, consumer loyalty is likely to improve – which, in turn, affects the business’ bottom line
Embracing Industry 4.0 in its infancy is hugely beneficial for manufacturing businesses. Strike now to get ahead of the competition. Given that technology is only set to develop further, adopting Industry 4.0 early gives businesses the opportunity to enhance their processes, performance and investments as it develops, keeping your company at the forefront of innovation and a leader in your sector.