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What You Need to Know About Industry 4.0

Nearly 200 years after the first industrial revolution, the world is at the start of a fourth revolution. One that offers a great promise and many benefits. This revolution is known as industry 4.0.

Today’s technology — big data, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) — is driving this new industry. It promises to make productization faster, create better profit margins, and give companies a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive environment.

It’s going to take the manufacturing automation to the next level. Business models will be impacted, redefined, and new ones will be created. Machine safety will increase and risks to worker will decrease. It will touch the world.

In this article, we’re going to explore exactly what we mean by this “industry 4.0”, the need for it, and how you can get organization ready for it. Toward the end, we’ll look at some of the challenges you’re bound to experience and how you can solve them.

Let’s get started.

What’s Need for Industry 4.0?

The question CIOs, and other professionals, ask us when we talk about industry 4.0 is, “What’s wrong with industry 3.0? Isn’t it enough?”

It’s a fair question. Industry 3.0 has allowed many organizations to further automate, increase efficiency, and optimize their value chains. We have different systems for storage, tracking, production and more.

For example, manufacturers have access to ERPs that use advanced analytics to help decision makers create plans around various activities in the business. There are CRMs, programming solutions, and even GPS tracking alternatives.

All of this has allowed organizations to experience many of the benefits that industry 4.0 promises — profits, optimization, and a competitive advantage.

While industry 3.0 has brought a lot of benefits to organizations, it’s not enough. It’s only scratching the surface of possibilities. The increased competitive environment, pressure from consumers to create personalized experiences at affordable prices, and the need to keep stakeholders happy, means organizations need to innovate.

Grow complacent and business will suffer. Organizations have to find ways to do better. They need machines that can communicate with each other and respond without any human involvement.

They need programs that can are smart enough to make business decisions, execute them, and learn to make better decisions based on the data it received.

For example, a nuclear power industry needs a machine and a web-application that can use mathematical algorithms to forecast equipment malfunctioning. This allows companies to make timely decisions to repair or replace equipment, which means they can reduce equipment downtime expenses, reduce preventative and emergency service expenses, and optimize repairing expenses.

This and more is exactly what industry 4.0 offers.

What’s Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is often called the “smart factory”. It’s about leveraging big data, advanced analytics, and the IoT to create a better factory. The idea is connect embedded systems and smart production facilities to create a digital convergence between business, internal functions and processes, and industry.

A common mistake is thinking this is a new concept. Like everything else, the groundwork for industry 4.0 was laid decades ago. It wasn’t until recently that we came to a convergence and tipping point where that allows us to build industry 4.0.

For example, the cloud has made the storage and collection of data cheaper, which has made big data possible. With big data, organizations are able to accurately predict demand and control their supply chain in response. Or even better, organizations can change demand based on their supply — this is known as demand shaping.

Industry 4.0 isn’t replacing any of the current technology we have, but building on top of what already exists.

When it comes to designing industry 4.0, there are four basic and important principles. The first, and arguably the most important, is interoperability. Under industry 3.0, many organization have platforms, machines, and software that allows for automation, but they don’t communicate with each other.

Data silos exist in organizations and in their servers for cost reasons, but the cloud and IoT have made interoperability cost effective and possible.

The second element is information transparency, which is the ability to create a virtual copy of the environment by equipping machines with sensors. The third element is technical assistance, which is about first, completing tasks for humans that are too exhausting or complex. Second, it’s about aggregating and visualizing information for decision makers — think data visualization platforms like Tableau.

The last element of design is all about decentralizing decisions. This is the ability for machines to make decisions without human action. With artificial intelligence and prescriptive analytics, organizations could have a machine that makes decisions, learn, and makes better decisions. In other words, a smart machine that gets smarter.

Preparing Your Organization for Revolution

While industry 4.0 offers many benefits and a great promise, it’s also a quantum leap for most organizations. For example, 60% of big data projects fail to move beyond piloting, according to Gartner.

To prepare for industry 4.0, organizations have to break the sweeping aims of industry 4.0 into smaller and more manageable project that have the potential to produce early value. Once, value has been proven, your organization can make incremental steps toward industry 4.0.

Here are some small projects your organization can consider:

● Acquiring the right talent is the main problem many organizations face with implementing industry 4.0. Spend time finding, hiring and retain top technology talent.
● Implementing a change management program to get stakeholders, decision makers, and employees on board with upgrading your information system.
● Combining data from internal and external sources, structured and unstructured data to improve decision making.
● Developing the competencies to better integrate IT and OT in your organization.
● Taking stock of existing IT support and identifying where further digitization is needed.
● Understanding the underlying technology of industry 4.0 — big data, cloud computing, IoT and more. Understand the impact on manufacturing operations to determine optimal tradeoffs between cost, innovation, and supply.
● Working toward developing smart manufacturing processes but on an incremental basis where the investments can be clearly justified and the benefits are apparent.

Conclusion

Industry 4.0 is the result of a tipping point in technology innovation. The groundwork for the revolution was laid decades ago. The IoT, cloud, big data, and more is pushing industry 4.0 forward.

This industry promises to change the way business is done. Business models will be redefined, more processes will become automated, and organization will optimize their value chain even further.

So stay alive in this competitive environment, organizations will want to use the benefits of industry 4.0 to develop a competitive advantage, improve revenue and profits, and offer better customer experiences.

To get ready for industry 4.0, start with small incremental projects that can prove the value of industry 4.0. Once you have proof, build from there. ISS Art can help you with your project needs and prepare your organization for industry 4.0. Get in touch with us today.

About the author

Svetlana Stasilovich

Marketing manager at ISS Art, LLC

  • Marta Fischer

    For those looking to learn more about Industry 4.0, please take a look at the online courses at University4Industry http://www.u4i.io. There are courses from digital business models to IT Security.