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Industry 4.0

The fourth industrial revolution is upon us and manufacturers everywhere are discussing their next steps to achieve an Industry 4.0 future. Industry 4.0 defines a new data-rich manufacturing world powered by the output from capital equipment, sensors, scanners, customer reviews, suppliers, and so much more.

This data is being used to enrich techniques, tools, and insights possible in manufacturing today. As almost every aspect of manufacturing becomes fully automated and connected, Industry 4.0 technologies and data are changing how manufacturers design, prototype, and produce new products. These technologies are not only shortening development cycles and helping to bring manufacturers closer to suppliers and customers, but Industry 4.0 devices are also a new source of revenue for manufacturers.

While the desire to achieve Industry 4.0 is apparent across all manufacturers, this vision is hard to achieve and there are many forces dragging down the adoption of innovations. Industry 4.0 may not be immediately possible in facilities that need capital, have poor performing operations, have paper-based systems, and many other aspects that hold them back from participating in this industrial revolution. It seems that Industry 4.0 is happening in two very distinct paths. For many firms, their first focus is to bring new digital capabilities to their internal facilities and this inward approach often captures many new kinds of data at more granular levels.

The ability for your firm to achieve a more digital future will depend on how self-aware you are of your own situation, as well as a deep knowledge of the technologies now available to you. It’s become abundantly clear that incremental change won’t set you apart from other manufacturing firms. Instead, it will take considered thought, vision, and strategy to achieve an Industry 4.0 future. So, what approach should your firm take to achieve your dream of an Industry 4.0 future?

Manufacturing and the Digital Thread

Since it is difficult to re-design manufacturing firms and capital equipment, and legacy technologies are very expensive, change and manufacturing are two words that are rarely used together. Change does not usually happen in manufacturing because it is difficult to pull off. As the fourth industrial revolution continues though, changes are coming at an increasing frequency for manufacturers and the sector is changing dramatically and strategically. Adaptive manufacturers in the U.S. are changing due to three major developments:

1) New technologies and other changes are presenting new market opportunities
2) The U.S. could increase manufacturing GDP by $530 billion
3) They must make changes on several fronts to improve their competitive position

Investments today are much more substantial compared to past moves that often involved incremental, piecemeal or stopgap approaches. Many businesses today are creating factories of the future by automating all parts of production activities and reimagining the role of their products once it’s placed in the hands of customers. The drivers and enablers behind these changes include:

• Capital spending within the manufacturing sector it up
• Investments in equipment and equipment automation are also up
• A major focus of these investments is on improving worker productivity
• Technology is no longer a highly constrained and expensive impediment to change
• Manufacturers can now access more technologies to improve their operations beyond basic ERP

As your manufacturing firm begins its journey to achieve an Industry 4.0 future, it’s important to perform a self-assessment to ensure you understand where you currently stand without this revolution and know exactly what technologies are available to your firm to help you achieve your goals. As the world around us became increasingly digital, many manufacturers were still analog, manual, or paper-based.

This new industrial revolution is looking to change all that and in order to keep up, it’s essential that your firm takes the most lucrative approach. Ensure that your manufacturing firm takes the best path to achieve Industry 4.0 with this comprehensive whitepaper, The Curious Path To Industry 4.0.