Industry 4.0: Next-Gen Technologies In Industrial Manufacturing
Today, manufacturers face many challenges that warrant the accelerated digitalization of operations by adopting new technologies and process innovations. This transformation is key to ensuring better resilience, agility, productiveness, and profitability in these ever-turbulent times.
But to achieve this, organizations must wholly shift their focus towards digital transformation and put significant time and effort into it. Having all hands-on deck in this endeavor is the only way to truly reap the transformative advantages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which are essential to any manufacturer’s growth and survival, and be ready for the future. Furthermore, there is no better time than now to rethink the digital manufacturing infrastructure and reshape it to create more resilient, collaborative, connected, and highly-integrated operations.
Navigating The Many Disruptions of Recent Years
The manufacturing sector is currently laden with numerous disruptions bearing significant financial and operational ramifications, both negative and positive. For one, they have prompted manufacturers to reimagine their contingency plans, risk management, safety protocols, and general operations and discover new ways of working simultaneously.
At the same time, there is a growing need for businesses to become more future-proof by leveraging the latest technological advances. The end goal is to improve resilience, which entails protecting daily operations, supporting employees, and sustaining a competitive edge that facilitates continued growth. After all, manufacturers that have accessible data, digital platforms, and advanced capabilities in their toolbox are better able to quickly respond in the face of disruptions.
Industry 4.0’s Key Technology Drivers
Industry 4.0 is now here, and digital technologies drive such transformation across the manufacturing sector. Hence, organizations must identify which products are most critical for their growth and stabilization and can aid them in meeting demand in the short-term and in the future. The primary Industry 4.0 technologies in play to consider are:
- Augmented/Virtual Reality
- Additive Manufacturing
- Autonomous Machines
- Cloud Technology
- Cognitive Computing
- Digital Twin
- Industrial Software
- Industrial Internet of Things
Implementing the above leads to a multitude of advantages, including improved flexibility, shorter TTM, greater quality, and increased efficiency, throughput, productivity, and profitability. As such, adopting these technologies grants a springboard that simplifies achieving future manufacturing success. That said, be sure to include technologies based on the value they add to the business and holistically evaluate them for interoperability and ensure maximum gain.
Enabling the Future of Industry 4.0 Transformation
The four key enablers that will shape Industry 4.0’s future include digitalization, decentralization, sustainability, and business models, which are underpinned by the need to increase resilience and decrease the customers’ financial risk.
- Digitalization – this transformation is more than simply going beyond leveraging technologies to convert processes and data but rather changing business models and providing new revenue opportunities while also tearing down disparate information silos at the same time.
- Decentralization – this process simplifies the flow of information and processes through monitoring and ease of access, with examples being blockchain, ops decentralization, and edge computing.
- Sustainability – emphasizes using green and efficient energy usage models through processes like repurposing, recycling, and reusing materials.
- Business Models – these outline better ways to achieve business outcomes by exploring additional capabilities and transforming the current models of operation. Some core examples are the shared economy, Data-as-a-Service, and XaaS (Anything-as-a-Service).
Navigating Key Shifts Here & Now
Manufacturers must realize several significant changes today to make sure their digital infrastructure is fit for their desired long-term agility and resilience. These changes rewrite the existing rules and open up the market for innovative solutions.
- Cognition from automation
With the help of AI, automation is gradually evolving into cognition. The true value of this frontier technology is identifying areas for improvement in processes by uncovering causal relationships that people would otherwise overlook.
- Prioritizing contextualization
Manufacturing facilities have volumes of data points about everything in their environment. But simply having such data does not suffice and needs to become meaningful. Otherwise, Industrial IoT (IIoT) is consigned to massive data lakes that serve no real value. As such, shifting to contextualization from basic connectivity is key to enabling true IIoT.
- Shifting to an integrated value chain
Following the data, not the product, is key in manufacturing. Hence, the linear value chain is shifting towards a more integrated and circular value chain where the end-to-end data thread comes into the equation. The data management strategies that arise, in turn, will provide the greatest opportunity for value creation.
- Ultimate personalization and adaptability
The future favors organizations that have built up their agility and resilience. Undoubtedly, the trend towards personalized products is pervading every aspect of the manufacturing industry, and thus companies should consider technologies that natively support Automate-To-Order capabilities. This ability to provide adaptability and personalization on demand will provide a unique competitive edge to those geared to meet the increasing demand for quality and personalized products.
Industry 4.0 is transforming how we design, create, source, supply, and service. The reactive, disjointed, and linear ways of the past now give way to a predictive, integrated, and circular future of industrial manufacturing.
If your organization is gearing up for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Allied Solutions can assist you with the digital enablement you need to reach your goal. We provide an array of automation and industrial manufacturing solutions that builds resilience and fuels rapid change in your manufacturing operations, including ST Engineering Data Diode, GE Proficy Historian, TrakSYS software, and more. Contact us today to learn how our products and services can enhance your business processes.