Manufacturing Matters & Industry 4.0
Manufacturers and service providers came together last October at the London Convention Center for London’s annual Manufacturing Matters Conference. Attendees had the opportunity to network with and learn from a long list of industry leaders including representatives from Nestle Canada, Arcane, Western University, and Festo.
If we were to sum up the theme of the Manufacturing Matters conference in one word, it would be innovation. Innovation that has been born by merging the software and data world with that of hardware and production, giving rise to what is now commonly being referred to as Industry 4.0—the next industrial revolution.
From talking to people on the floor, a common sentiment we found people expressing was the need for simplicity and efficiency. The challenge manufacturers face, however, is implementing efficiency-enhancing solutions without bogging down back-end processes. By implementing massive ERP systems, manufacturers production processes can become convoluted, and although production itself becomes more efficient, more manhours are required to maintain that efficiency. Synergy is needed between hardware and software. If the software doesn’t add value, then it is just adding unnecessary complexity. This is where Industry 4.0 comes into play.
Industry 4.0— What is it?
Just as the assembly line revolutionized production, software and data are revolutionizing the assembly line, this time by allowing machines to communicate with one another. If you are familiar with the Internet of Things (IoT), you know it is a network of devices that has been made by taking traditionally disconnected items and connecting them to the cloud, the internet and each other. IoT in many ways has been a precursor to industry 4.0. Last month, we had posted a blog about how the Internet of Things revolutionizes big data. In that blog, we talked about how big data helps businesses make informed decisions by leveraging the vast amounts of information at their fingertips, while IoT helps contribute significant amounts of data into the data pool. Applying these concepts to the manufacturing industry, and you have what is at the heart of Industry 4.0; data, and hardware.
When machines you rely on for production become integrated and connected to one another, all sorts of advantages become possible. You can track and monitor repairs with a high degree of accuracy, enhancing your response time. You can identify bottlenecks and rectify them to improve efficiency. Sensory data provides insight into anything from mechanical performance to production stages. Overall transparency into your processes increases tenfold – giving manufacturers more control.
Why Do We Care?
The technologies that enable machine connectivity are becoming more accessible than ever— WiFi connectivity is both more accessible and reasonably priced, and sensory technology continues to decrease in both size as well as cost. Even getting value out of your data is easier than ever with data analysis tools like AI, machine learning and cloud computing capabilities. As these essential components of Industry 4.0 reach maturity, manufacturers are seeing growing pressure to adopt these technologies to maintain a competitive advantage.
Because innovation doesn’t happen overnight, rapid growth is often accompanied by growing pains. In this case, it is manufacturers trying to prepare for Industry 4.0 adoption. As we mentioned earlier, non-strategic implementation of software can result in meaningless complexity. But well-planned applications of software into manufacturing processes can be powerful drivers of productivity and efficiency.
Industry 4.0 is an opportunity, but also a risk. Some organizations will have already heavily invested in software solutions and may be better positioned to make the transition to a hybridized hardware/software environment. Many however will be venturing into a new world outside of their comfort zone. For those who are feeling unprepared for the adoption of Industry 4.0, we offer two suggestions: Develop a strategy for connecting your machinery to ensure you have a foundation in place for when you begin implementing changes. This will ensure you take on only value-adding processes, rather than complexity for the sake of complexity. Secondly, leverage the expertise of professionals. Whether you are looking to develop your own custom software solution that streamlines your manufacturing processes, or you just want to consult with someone that can help familiarize you with the world of software— reaching out to someone who has experience in the industry can help put your mind at ease.
Here at CoreSolutions, we have over 25 years’ experience in the software industry and we understand that providing exceptional service and support, alongside our versatile customizable software applications, is what sets us apart from the competition. If you would like to discuss how software can help streamline your manufacturing processes and improve efficiency as well as productivity, reach out to us today!
And as always,
Thanks for reading!