Industry 4.0 – Are manufacturers ready to take the leap?

There’s a lot said and heard about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, commonly referred to as Industry 4.0. The proper implementation of which could significantly enhance manufacturing processes by transforming simple machines into smart, adaptable and highly efficient ones. The synergy of cyber technologies like IIOT (Industrial Internet Of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) with the physical systems can bring in numerous possibilities with respect to self-diagnostics, decision making, human & machine safety, preventive maintenance, real time process monitoring, reporting and so on. Also linking the Procurement, Inventory and Logistic management systems would enable a seamless end-to-end process flow by pre-identification of process hurdles.

Are manufacturers ready to take this leap?

This transformation from traditional manufacturing process to smart manufacturing is the need of the hour, but are manufacturers ready to take this leap? More importantly the SME’s (Small-to-Medium Enterprise) which make more than 80% of the industry. For Industry 4.0 to really come into existence, it’s very important that the SME’s along with the big players commence their transformation journey.

''When it comes to implementation of something this significant service dependability is going to be crucial''

Manufacturer, Technology partner and Integrators are the three most important elements of this transformation process. Bringing the idea of Industry 4.0 into reality depends on the co-ordination of these elements. The technology partner being the one who provides the products to support these new technologies, the integrator who physically integrates the systems and the manufacturer who gets his factory transformed by enabling the implementation and of course by paying for it. The most important factor here is the relation between the manufacturer and Integrator; trust is the key. Its only when the manufacturer trust’s the service provider, that he/she will be in a position to take this leap. Very rarely we focus on aspects like service dependability and service response time, over service quality, but when it comes to implementation of something this significant, service dependability is going to be crucial.

It’s not going to be an easy switch, considering the challenges such as capital investment, re-skilling of employees and most importantly change management. This transformation needs to be paced perfectly for successful implementation. Manufacturers must consider breaking down their transformation journey into phases, starting with upgradation of non critical processes. This will help them understand the steps involved in transformation and instill confidence in them to carry on with the next phases. This gradual and progressive approach will also help in reducing large capital requirements and provide adequate time for reskilling of employees. With proper information and the right mindset this transformation should be a successful one. One should also understand that the journey of change is never-ending, but necessary. Once compatibility to Industry 4.0 is achieved, we surely will be looking at something new, perhaps Industry 5.0.