While it may be common knowledge that we are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), we are still trying to ferret out what that entails for traditional industries, said an expert.
In Industry 4.0, automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things are proving invaluable for industries such as manufacturing, where the innovative use of data and technology improves processes and jumpstarts efficiency, remarked Mansoor Sarwar, regional technical director at Sage Middle East.
Manufacturers must adopt new ways of working to achieve the level of optimisation that Industry 4.0 enables and own the market. Simply digitalising internal processes isn’t enough to reap the benefits, he stated.
According to global market intelligence firm IDC, just 30 per cent of international manufacturers investing in transforming their digital operations will reach their full potential.
And what happens to the rest? The majority will be constrained by legacy business models and outdated technology.
To arrive at a pinnacle of manufacturing development, factory managers, financial experts, and executives must collaborate in using cutting-edge technology to understand production data, stated Sarwar.
If business leaders can pivot their strategy towards smarter analytics and building the organisational structure needed to optimise efficiency, they can leverage Industry 4.0 to create more competitive advantages and improve their product offering as well as ensure customer loyalty and satisfaction, he added.
At present, we are witnessing the emergence of ‘smart factories’ that harvest data from connected operations and production systems to learn and adapt to new demands – and it’s as transformative as it sounds, said the technical expert.
Future-focused manufacturers can reach this stage through developing a winning Industry 4.0 strategy that focuses on four pillars, he noted.
*The first pillar is investing in people. Industry 4.0 commands a significant skill shift to explore the full potential of new technologies. This, in turn, impacts recruitment and training. Business leaders need to blend traditional manufacturing expertise with new skills and capabilities, such as knowledge of automation, data, analytics, programming, and software.
*Next is connecting with the right software partners to supply and support integrated systems that link the core functions of the company – inventory, production, sales, accounting, and finance. This pillar is key because the system only works if everyone is using the same database of real-time information.
*Third, Industry 4.0 is about humans and machines working together in sync, so hardware will continue to play an essential role in the future of manufacturing. Even with the most advanced technology deployed in shaping a smart factory, we still need to physically make products, and this doesn’t happen without hardware.
Finally, connectivity is the cornerstone of any Industry 4.0 strategy. Without it, the Internet of Things wouldn’t exist, while artificial intelligence and automation would face severe limitations, said Sarwar.
A great analogy to understand the potential of connected data is to compare it to a power source that drives innovation in the same way that electricity did centuries ago, he added.-TradeArabia News Service