In my last post introducing the fourth industrial revolution or industry 4.0, the goal was to clear up the misconceptions surrounding the topic and to reveal some of the new, previously unimagined business models and opportunities this revolution is creating.
Now I am going to focus on how you can make this revolution a reality in your organization.
While it might not be a surprise that the fourth industrial revolution is capable of increasing manufacturing capabilities and efficiency, many find themselves perplexed on where to begin this journey and how to start embracing it.
Let’s start with the basic concepts of Industry 4.0
There are three key technological components of Industry 4.0:
- Internet of Things (IoT) – meaning, the ability to gather data from machinery and equipment
- The Cloud – which allows you to store this data on a centralized system
- A Data Analytics Engine – that not only allows you to reveal trends in data, but also to predict future trends with a high level of certainty
While these three technological components are requirements of Industry 4.0 – The true enabling factor of the next industrial revolution starts much closer to home, with the tools you already have.
Industry 4.0 recommendations for implementation
In order to adopt industry 4.0 in your business, you must begin by reviewing your business processes and integrating the enterprise systems that support them. Because I4.0 will change business models (and thus your current business processes), it is critical that these processes be reviewed with a clear path in mind about the direction of your future business objectives. This isn't an easy task, because implementing Industry 4.0 means radically changing the information backbone of your company.
Companies must start by placing data and digital content of products at the center of their business model. Systems like CRM (Customer Relationship Management), PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) must be integrated and good at interoperating – Only after this is achieved will you be ready to introduce I4.0 technologies.
What does that mean for your business?
In concrete terms, this means, for example, connecting your commercial configuration system to your design system (PLM) allowing new product configurations to be available in real-time and in a controlled manner. If you are integrated in this scenario, and also with the factory systems (MES), you can reach a level of product customization that is extremely fine-tuned. Not surprisingly, this is referred to as a "lot size of one."
This concept enables companies to manufacture any product, quantity, variant, sequence, and assembly line - at any time. Of course, this means different things for different industries.
In the industrial machinery sector, for example, it means the ability to switch from a traditional sales model based on acquisition, to a sales model where one sells their client the performance that this particular machine can deliver. Income and revenue then, will be generated from an applied pricing model based on equipment usage and maintenance fees.
In the fashion industry instead, thanks to the augmentation and the manufacturing of 3D printers, one has the ability to "print" accessories (i.e. buttons, buckles, etc...) directly on the packaging line, offering the end customer uniquely customized products.
It is evident then, that the path to accessing the fourth industrial revolution must be based on your company’s long term business goals.
How can you achieve it?
At Techedge, we are bringing I4.0 to the market with a distinctive approach for each industry. After all, the needs in the world of fashion are quite different from those in the energy and utilities sector.
Together with our customers we are defining a clear approach with achievable milestones to realize I4.0 in their business within months, not years.