The push towards Industry 4.0 seems almost a prerequisite to stay competitive in the future. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to invest a huge amount of money from the start.
Let’s imagine you want to learn a foreign language: You wouldn’t stay at home, in isolation, and attempt to commit an entire dictionary to memory. You’d get a teacher and start to learn new words and grammar step-by-step. This way, from the beginning, you could start using the language you have picked up – and if you were living in the country where that foreign language was spoken, after a short time you could start to reap benefits too. You could ask for items from the local shop and ask for directions. Later, having invested more time and money, the benefits would become greater – you would be able to make friends and even get a job and earn money.
Delivering proven solutions to digitalize each step of the production process.
Starting or progressing on a journey towards Industry 4.0 is like learning a new language. Let me explain: With the support of a teacher, taking small steps can mean the benefits will start arriving very soon. Overstretch yourself, with no support at the beginning and you will have to wait longer for returns – and you risk taking huge losses if you cause embracement or offence by miss-pronouncing a word along the way!
As an important part of ensuring their future security, manufacturers of all sizes are looking for ways to adopt aspects of Industry 4.0, across industries and across the globe. This situation appears to be turning in to a race, where the winners will take all. This competition is good because it is fueling the development of digital. In the end, industry and customers will benefit from increased efficiency and speed of innovation.
With this new range of smart manufacturing technologies, including advanced sensor technologies, 3D printing, industrial robotics, big data analytics, machine learning, and wireless connectivity, comes the need for new experts (the language teacher), who can give guidance on when and how to implement new capabilities.
Increasingly, manufacturers need to take advantage of specialized expertise when it comes to digitalization. Such skills and knowledge are available as-a-service, from companies who are used to analyzing processes and identifying areas where steps toward digitalization can be taken. They are then able to implement systems that will bring savings from day one – altogether meaning that ROI for such cycles of development, or steps, comes reliably, and quickly.
From small steps to digitalize whole company
Combining the sophistication of computing devices and IoT sensors with the recent increase in the data processing and analytics capabilities, you can collect real-world data about operations in real time across your whole process. The first step of tapping in to this is often to benchmark your plant and production processes and identify areas for improvement – while leveraging your existing assets, resources and infrastructure. Based on the collected data you can make a first step to Industry 4.0 by calculation of basic KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), such as OEE.
In a PWC survey on digital factories, two thirds of respondents expected to be using data for predictive maintenance, analytics, monitoring and optimization, within the next five years and they estimated an average 12 percent gain in efficiency over the period.
Manufacturing digitalization is the future and it’s not as huge and daunting a process as you might think. With a step-by-step approach and the right support and tools, fast ROI can be achieved with bit-sized investments.