What came first was steam, then electricity and the birth of mass production, followed by computers and automation. And now we have Industry 4.0 or the fourth Industrial revolution.
According to the industry experts, the fourth revolution is going to surpass them all in terms of benefits. The industrial internet will increase operational efficiency and return on assets (ROA) to levels never imagined before. And all this will be achieved through the Internet of Things (IoT).
Smart Manufacturing – Improving Operational Efficiency
The manufacturing industry is leading the IoT revolution, and the reasons are plenty, starting from efficiency, automation, customer-centricity, competitive benefits and the advantages which are offered by using data across the manufacturing value chain and to tap into new revenue sources, a key aspect of digital transformation in manufacturing.
Industry 4.0 talks about the concept of “Smart Factories”. These are factories in which all equipment and machineries would be monitored by cyber-physical components. This means you would no longer require field engineers to go around every hour monitoring the equipment. Sensors will do that for you and send signals, as often as required, to a centralized control system, which can process and monitor those signals. Automating the monitoring part implies that there will be no misses or human errors in identifying issues.
Not only monitoring, but also maintenance would transform from being reactive to predictive. Your historical sensor data would be used to predict a possible breakdown and the system would generate alerts for the right person to take action at the right time, thereby preventing downtime even before it occurs.
This will be coupled with other business relevant insights and self-service dashboards which will help you make the system do the work for you.
Implementing Smart Manufacturing – Understanding the Potential Benefits
Given the complexity and breadth of the manufacturing industry, there are many more use cases, starting from field service and asset monitoring, as discussed above, to asset management, facility management, logistics and ecosystem, customer preference and behavior, quality control, production flow monitoring and many more.
All these features are remarkable and they can work wonders for your business, if implemented the right way.
As the saying goes, ’Simplicity is not a simple thing’, and no matter how simple the end results are, implementation needs expertise in technology as well as in business.
Below are some aspects you need to ponder upon before taking the technological plunge towards a ‘smarter’ tomorrow:
1. Data Security: If a manufacturing factory is hacked into, it can result into wasted time, revenue, product and possibly, reputation. Businesses that take action and get ahead in terms of IoT security will be better situated to take advantage of the cutting-edge technology rather than getting bogged down by cyber attacks.
2. Reliability and Stability of the Solution: Once automated using the Internet of things, your processes would change. This means that the industrial internet will be the heart of your business process and thus, it must always be up and running. It should also, be able to handle traffic load and be scalable.
3. Implementation based on your Business Requirements: Needless to say, the business logic has to be properly implemented. Of all things that can be monitored, you need to fathom what will add value to you and your business.
The goal is not to have an abundance of data but a plethora of insights. The insights gained with an integrated IoT approach from the customer side are also, crucial and capable of enabling the businesses to offer better products, quality and services.
The Future of Factories
The benefits of IoT are manifold and they vanquish the risks involved. Nonetheless, they need to be dealt with. With expertise in handling such implementations, dealing with them becomes easy. Hence, business owners must always consider the technical as well as business expertise of partners for a seamless digital journey. Industry 4.0 is known to have been powered by certain advancements and they are smart manufacturing, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). A shift to smart manufacturing ensures that businesses save much money and translate into greater profits, along with producing more jobs and healthier economies. Our machines are moving into a more complex age, so are our workers and products, ushering in a new era of production. There is a necessity to capitalize on smart manufacturing as it is considered to be a strategic asset for growth. This is the age of re-imagining the future of smart manufacturing with digital factories.
Business Analyst – Digital Business Consulting, RapidValue