3 Ways Manufacturers Can Win In The Industry 4.0 Revolution

Small Business3 Ways Manufacturers Can Win In The Industry 4.0...

Anise Madh is the CEO of LeanSwift, a global leader in eCommerce and mobile solutions for Infor M3.

Industry 4.0—also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution—has ushered a monumental shift in the global manufacturing industry, and it’s rapidly changing how companies operate. This strategy expands on existing automation technologies and processes to include the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning (ML), cloud and edge computing, augmented reality (AR) and more.

Adoption of these technologies continues to be at the forefront of decision makers’ minds because doing so helps them become more adaptable, agile and profitable. McKinsey reports most manufacturers (70%) prioritize Industry 4.0 adoption. However, less than one-third of these manufacturers are capturing value at scale.

This is surprising since McKinsey estimates Industry 4.0 can provide $3.7 trillion in value creation in 2025. As such, here are three ways manufacturing industry leaders can approach and implement this technology to ensure captured value and experience a positive return on investment.

1. Build From The Cloud Up

Cloud computing applications can centralize data storage, bandwidth and processing, as well as enable faster transmission of information between parties. These qualities lead to greater collaboration and more opportunities to streamline traditionally slower processes. Cloud computing also offers a great solution for manufacturers to scale their services, which can save costs because businesses pay based on current needs.

Cloud computing offers other benefits to manufacturers, such as providing extra layers of data security. This is why Apple was an early leader and player in Industry 4.0 manufacturing and adoption, penning a partnership with GE to deploy iOS across manufacturing infrastructure.

Because of these advantages and others, cloud computing is the foundation for Industry 4.0 technologies. When manufacturing leaders are looking to implement Industry 4.0 technology, it’s important to seek ones built from the cloud up rather than ones that are simply operable with cloud-based systems.

2. Get Competitive With Edge

The key to capturing the value of Industry 4.0 is to ensure the technology has an edge computing infrastructure. According to market intelligence firm IDC, global spending on edge computing is predicted to hit $176 billion this year—a 14.8% increase over 2021.

AI-based devices are expected to lead the technology’s growth. The ability to efficiently connect endpoint devices to overall operations makes AI a key player in edge computing technology. IoT edge devices also drive Industry 4.0 advantages, allowing for data to be easily accessed and processed at the device level. Statista predicts more than 29 billion IoT-connected devices will be in existence by 2030—nearly tripling from 9.7 billion in 2020.

Early implementation of this growing technology into a manufacturer’s processes can support maximizing the value earned from Industry 4.0, along with strengthening and supporting a company’s reputation as an industry leader and innovator.

3. Rethink Your Supply Chain Planning

Although the features of Industry 4.0 technology in supply chain planning can generate incredible efficiency and drive cost savings, it must be utilized properly. Adoption is just the first step; implementing and using them effectively are equally important next steps.

When leaning into greater visibility and communication abilities available through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, supply chain managers must rethink the planning approach. Using transparency and visibility into processes and knowing where all pieces of inventory are at any time, managers can pivot their planning from a quantity-first to quality-first mindset. This will help manage exaggerated lead times for the overall product mix—both the items a manufacturer sells and the raw materials needed to create them.

For example, Nokia has meshed Industry 4.0 with its manufacturing process to create Supply Chain 4.0. By interconnecting every step of its process through digitization, the technology company has fostered visibility and seamless communication to meet customer demand.

Like other industries, manufacturing evolves and transforms with the times. Technology propels the sector forward as it develops and expands. With the development of new digital advances and an influx in technologies, manufacturing is experiencing one of the largest shifts since the initial Industrial Revolution. It’s critical that businesses correctly adopt, implement and utilize Industry 4.0 technology if they want to be competitive and successful. Understanding the full capabilities of this array of technologies and how they can be used to support the overall planning and strategizing of manufacturing operations gives businesses an upper hand to take advantage of all they have to offer.

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