Industrie 4.0 is the next step in the evolution of manufacturing. While the term is just coming into widespread use, it is one that will soon achieve near-universal acceptance in manufacturing. Industrie 4.0 refers to the digital disruption of the manufacturing industry, and there are four converging factors driving the digitization in the manufacturing industry:
- The Rise in Data Volumes
The IoT has enabled companies to capture second-by-second information from machines and equipment, creating the ability to respond to production or demand changes in near real-time. This, in turn, brings greater agility to a company’s production process by being able to boost worker productivity and increase capacity – further striving to meet customer demands.
- Increased Computing Power
Advanced computers, virtualization, and wide-bandwidth networking capabilities have made operating data centers in the cloud feasible for every company. This has enabled companies to forge tighter relationships with customers and suppliers through the sharing of information across geographic and company boundaries and giving them the competitive advantage of being better able to meet (and exceed) customer requirements.
- Advanced Analytics and AI
Big data analytics engines have expanded capabilities to the point that they have enabled companies to take advantage of the data gathered from sensor-equipped machinery, point-of-sale insights and other seemingly unrelated data sets (such as weather forecasts or geopolitical sentiments) to hone forecasts and finely orchestrate global supply chains.
- Robotics, 3D Printing and Other “Advanced” Manufacturing Methods
The ability to transmit information from the digital to the physical in real time has changed the way companies design and build products. The power and value are moving from ownership of equipment that can make things, to the ownership of the IP that can control the equipment. Expect to see products entirely built by robots, and 3D printed cars, shoes and even houses in the near future. In fact, some even say that eventually retail malls may be replaced by 3D printer farms.
How to Prepare for Industrie 4.0
The recent publicity about massive data breaches that left millions of people’s privacy unprotected should be a hint as to one of the biggest challenges facing Industrie 4.0 companies. Finding ways to protect our data and networks should be a top priority for every company and the number one task on every IT team’s to-do list.
Along with security concerns will be data management concerns. The need for data scientists and skilled technicians who can assist with advanced data visualizations and augmented reality will become critical. Prepare now by recruiting skilled individuals if possible and training people already on staff in the emerging trends. The need for people with these advanced technical skills will be the top constraint on the spread of Industrie 4.0, and companies that don’t align their current resources with future demands will find it nearly impossible to catch up later.
Industrie 4.0 Advantages
Along with changes come unprecedented opportunities to develop new business models. New opportunities will emerge that will benefit the entire organization, as new intelligent products work to decrease energy consumption, optimize yields and improve the lives of customers worldwide.
Looking for advice to further enhance operations in your warehouse, DC or manufacturing facility? Interested in 3D printing technology? Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, and we’ll provide you with recommendations that include time-saving solutions to boost productivity and increase profitability.