What’s the latest on Industry 4.0?

We’ve been following (and driving) smart manufacturing transformation for a number of years now. And, over the last few years (particularly through the pandemic), the world has shifted and so has manufacturing. 

But what about the technology?

In the first part in this series, we looked at some of the barriers to adopting Industry 4.0, including the frustration caused by new technology that wasn’t quite there yet.

So, is that really the case? We wanted to take a closer look at this particular challenge and see how the technology, adoption, and ideas have evolved in recent years.

Let’s start with some basics…

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is another way of saying ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’. It summarizes the transformation currently taking place in manufacturing around the world, as companies increasingly move towards digitalization, connectedness, big data, analytics, automation, AI, internet-enabled devices, and more.

What does Industry 4.0 look like in practice? 

Prior to Industry 4.0, you’d find a lot more paper on the factory floor, no screens, a lot more operators, and manual processes. 

Now, you might find:

  • Operators working alongside computer devices to add relevant data from the factory floor
  • Other processes automatically entered into the system
  • An analytics platform using data to predict issues, trigger events, and control production processes
  • Real-time data from the factory accessed on any device (anywhere in the world) via secure login
  • Better decision-making and automatic improvements to performance

Industry 4.0: Is it working?

If you look into today’s factories, you’ll find plenty of examples of Industry 4.0 working successfully, with benefits like improved efficiency, measurable and more reliable data, and better-informed decision making. For example, manufacturing software often use IoT Gateway devices to capture production line data to provide operations teams a clear overview of their manufacturing operations. Having a clear picture of what's happening across your factory at any given moment is an absolute gamechanger for manufacturers.

This goes against previous research by McKinsey which suggested that around 70% of Industry 4.0 transformations fail to achieve their stated objectives. But that’s not necessarily because the technology fell short, but because people’s expectations weren’t aligned with its capabilities and some organizations did not take the time to carefully vet opportunities before investing in them. Instead, they chose to follow the hype and did not evaluate whether it was the 'right' time for them to adopt new technology.

Things are a little different now and the technology itself has started to mature and prove itself. Manufacturers are now looking towards solutions that have proven themselves over a period of time and add real value to a company's bottom line. Implementing such technology has actually become much easier and it often only takes hours to get them up and running in a factory with visible results as quickly as two weeks.

Fewer barriers than ever before

One of the main reasons Industry 4.0 is ‘new’ for a lot of manufacturers is that until recently, there were more barriers to entry. Companies needed to pull together multiple innovations and components that rely on each other to deliver outcomes.

But this is all changing…

We’ve seen significant advancements in recent years in data storage solutions (such as Cloud), internet speeds, wireless connections, data security, graphics, video, and voice — all of which are coming together to enable Industry 4.0 solutions like OFS.

These advances in technology are culminating in faster, simpler and cheaper deployments - and with substantially less risk to the end user.

So, how close are we to seeing Industry 4.0 technologies reach maturity and widespread adoption? Is it still early days?

What it means for manufacturers

Industry 4.0 has shown enormous growth as manufacturers of all shapes and sizes are realising the benefits are now within much closer reach than ever before. Technologies and implementation expertise are making deployments simpler, faster and more cost effective, and software tools are coming on in leaps and bounds when it comes to delivering actionable insights.

Today, manufacturers are using Industry 4.0 applications to solve many high quality problems. Common examples of these include driving reductions across waste, conversion and packaging costs, unplanned stoppages and changeover times. Conversely, we are also seeing many operations teams using technology to help unlock efficiency and capacity gains, increase run rates and find ways to consistently deliver on attainment to plan. The applications to manufacturers are endless as are the benefits and value realised.

Get Started today at our cost

Yes, you heard that right! If you are looking for an Industry 4.0 solution that maximizes the capabilities of technologies available right now, then you can get started at our expense and see the improved difference in the efficiency of your operations for yourself.

OFS is an IoT-enabled manufacturing monitoring solution that improves efficiency, reduces waste, and boosts profits. We’ve been around since 2006 and companies all over the world in 20+ countries use our integrated hardware and software to develop their own Smart Factory capabilities.

You can request a free 30 day trial or contact our team to discuss your specific requirements.