Amidst the precarious climatic changes, rising trading difficulties, and forfeiting economic uncertainties, the struggle for manufacturing companies is formidable. In addition, the fourth Industrial Revolution is posing further challenges. It promises to bring an era of wireless connectivity and sensors connected to the main system which will not only visualize the production lines but will also take decisions. The accomplice technologies of Industry 4.0 are artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, cyber-physical systems (CPS), the internet of things (IoT), industrial internet of things (IIOT), cloud computing, and many more.
Implementing these technologies without understanding the returns on investment and improvement of efficiency is what leading more than a significant half of the companies to back out. Clearly, there is a need for thought leadership in manufacturing like never before.
But as they say, there is an opportunity associated with every calamity, 4IR, if leveraged well can make manufacturing companies thrive without much concern. In fact, it can make them tread on the progress-wagon by leaps and bounds. Let us see how?
Allow Technology to Evolve & Scale across the Industry
Factories must find novel ways of operating. Gone are the days of simply adding incremental solutions to the existing processes. Today, a much stronger focus is required on identifying issues and devising solutions. Coming up with new operating systems that leverage emerging technologies like Machine Learning and AI, IoT, and Big Data, manufacturing companies must follow an agile approach that continuously iterates to create better and newer ways to enhance the efficiency of the system in addition to scaling solutions all over the organization.
A good example of this concept is exhibited by Fast Radius Company in the US which has created an analytics platform utilizing IoT-based sensors and Machine Learning algorithms. The sensors capture data in the manufacturing process and machine learning algorithm is applied to the captured data to give valuable insights in the form of feedback. It has led the personnel to improve the design quickly and address issues effectively. An inventory cut down of 36% and the time to market reduced by 90% is the witness to the fact.
Leverage Technology to Create Sustainability
Environmental degradation is a hot topic of discussion in every board room today. Manufacturing being the biggest consumer of energy is responsible for a significant amount of global emissions depleting the environment. Driven by technology, the efficiency of systems in the manufacturing units can increase with the consequent reduction of material consumption and CO2 emissions.
Unilever in Dubai, UAE has embraced digital transformation to enable end-to-end quality management as a local entrepreneurial drive with a short time and budget. The result: more than 40% of the material waste has reduced.
Train Your Workforce to Accommodate Digital Transformation
A trained workforce much smaller in size can do wonders which even a large team sticking to traditional practices cannot. Technology disrupts and transforms the operations in manufacturing. Those who do not align themselves with the tide are doomed to destruction. Technology leaders of the 4IR must, therefore, leverage technology and expertise to make their workforce trained and capable of handling technological innovation. Workers must also be encouraged to imbibe new ways of working with effective learning. Technologies like virtual and augmented reality and methodologies like gamification can make learning easy, effective, and applicable ultimately leading to deliver real-time work via the digital medium.
Food Otosan in Turkey, for example, has developed a team named Talent Development Agile. Comprising the HR, manufacturing, and vocational training, this team encourages the employees to cultivate innovation, data, and creativity skills.
Summing it up
Amongst the various squalls hitting the market already, the blizzard of Industry 4.0 will drench everyone. You must leave no stone unturned that can enable you to accommodate it and jump on the wagon of progress with it.