Industry 4.0 represents one of the most significant developments to come about in the manufacturing field since the Industrial Revolution. With it comes many challenges as well as advantages to companies and economies around the globe.
Although the benefits of Industry 4.0 are manifold, there are several different perspectives on what this new era represents and what kind of value will actually be realized. Let’s take a look at how to define the concept and its advantages. Overview of Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution or 4IR, is the next step in digitizing manufacturing. This era of digital transformation is being fueled by significant technological advances such as advanced analytics, new approaches to managing data and connectivity, enhanced human-to-machine interactions, and innovative robotics applications.
While some people think that 4IR is merely a buzzword, it’s undeniable that Industry 4.0 technologies are changing the manufacturing world for the better. Benefits of Industry 4.0 for Manufacturers
So what are some of the benefits of Industry 4.0? Increased Efficiency and Productivity
In short, companies can accomplish more with the same or fewer resources than ever before. Smart factories are allowing the redeployment of resources from manual and rote activity to higher-value work by automating equipment and machinery, for example. Efficiency and productivity increase, and companies “get smarter” in how they deploy valuable human capital. New technologies are also making it considerably easier to monitor every aspect of the manufacturing process – from the shop floor to the back office. Issues can be identified more quickly, translating into less downtime, a particularly important goal for companies with high-cost production lines. Time is money, and keeping things fully operational is imperative. Having real-time visibility and a more comprehensive view of all possible bottlenecks or issues also lowers the overall cost of troubleshooting when problems do occur.
Another noteworthy benefit of Industry 4.0 is improved quality assurance. With less human involvement in many parts of a smart factory, for example, more consistent and less error-prone execution is possible. It’s easier to calibrate and maintain robotics than to take into consideration all of the variables that may come into play with human-driven activities. For industries like biotech and electronics, where the microscopic manufacturing details matter, consistency and accuracy are of great importance. Simply put, predictable detailed execution means better business outcomes.
Faster Time-to-Market for Products and Services
Less human error, lower production variability, greater work visibility, and real-time monitoring lead to a competitive advantage for manufacturers. The age of digitization is allowing companies to be more creative and get innovations to market much faster by enabling them to deploy resources towards higher value activities, improve cycle times and accelerate process improvements. More innovation delivered at a faster rate can significantly increase an organization’s growth trajectory. Enhanced Visibility Into Operations, Allowing for Greater Control Over Manufacturing Processes
The use of technology is front and center in Industry 4.0, and it is allowing manufacturers to have a much higher degree of visibility into all areas of their business. With greater transparency comes the opportunity to analyze and readily change areas that aren’t working or that are simply not optimized. This represents one of the most significant changes for manufacturing companies. What once was driven heavily by paper and/or email documentation is now being captured in real-time as work flows throughout an organization.
Cost Savings Through Workflow Automation Technologies
When looking at what automation can deliver across an entire enterprise, 4IR is ushering in new technologies that allow for real-time visibility into all areas of work – not just the activities that happen on the shop floor.
For this reason, workflow automation and process management platforms are gaining significant traction in manufacturing as organizations realize that they need to look beyond the factory worker for ways to improve their business. It should be noted that these platforms are not to be confused with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions. Many ERPs will tout their ability to automate workflows or processes and all non-production-related activities, but few can deliver the functionality, security, and integration capabilities of purpose-built, workflow-driven platforms.
Increased Collaboration Across Teams and Departments
In any company, those that thrive and excel are ones where collaboration and idea sharing are facilitated and/or fully enabled. Yet, having an “innovation” culture simply isn’t enough in today’s competitive arena. That’s where the technologies of Industry 4.0 can fully embed collaboration capability and work orchestration in an entire enterprise. Thanks to technological advances in communication and work automation platforms, cross-departmental and enterprise-wide cooperation and idea sharing have increased exponentially.
Setting aside all the benefits that workflow automation can bring, even a slight increase in interdepartmental collaboration can drive a range of secondary advantages, such as:
- Improved employee job satisfaction and stronger engagement across the organization
- Higher customer satisfaction scores leading to improved retention rates
- More efficient and effective work management resulting in better financial performance
Better Decision-Making Options
In terms of the many advantages of Industry 4.0, one of the most significant is the increased ability to make more informed r decisions. Due in large part to an increase in the exchange of ideas and company-wide collaboration, Industry 4.0 allows management to make decisions based on hard data rather than beliefs or biases.
Because departments and teams can work together seamlessly when using tools like a workflow automation platform, information flows freely and in real time. So, not only is better decision-making possible, it is happening at a much faster rate. Agility and flexibility are paramount to meeting customer needs, addressing unforeseen challenges, and mitigating any future risk in today’s economic climate. Moving away from paper, email, and spreadsheets is only the beginning. The Benefits of Industry 4.0: Practical Application
Digital transformation everywhere continues to be a driving force for economic expansion, and manufacturing is no exception. It’s readily apparent that Industry 4.0 is already having an impact.
But how can you practically bring the advantages of the 4.0 era into your organization? The answer lies in bringing new technologies in-house and integrating them with existing/legacy systems. This, however, presents one of the greatest challenges in moving digital transformation forward in any industry – not just manufacturing.
Not only do new systems, platforms, or technologies need to be easy to deploy, but they must “play nice with others.” Unfortunately, not all technology solution providers keep this top of mind, and it’s why IT departments everywhere are hesitant to look for “out-of-the-box” solutions.
Couple the challenge of integration with the short supply of developers, and you have very strong barriers to change. There are solutions on the market that take these issues into consideration, with “no code” platforms offering the quickest and easiest way to continue accelerating digital transformation. Yet, it’s not easy to know how to evaluate the many options on the market.
At a high level, there’s no doubt that workflow automation and business process management platforms have a very important role to play in any digital transformation effort. With our detailed specifications and product performance guides, HighGear makes it easy to evaluate and implement the solution that’s right for you. With our workflow automation platform, harness the innovations of 4IR across your organization with:
- Customization – HighGear offers a high degree of customization from the user interface all the way through to the workflow processes.
- Increased Efficiency and Productivity – Empower your employees to access the information and tools they need to do their work by combining all elements of any given workflow or process into a single platform.
- Better Interdepartmental Communication and Collaboration – Enable better communication between departments by allowing the integration of essential workplace tools and applications.
- Reporting and Decision-Making Advantages – With continuous access to useful data and comprehensive reporting, management can rely on objective reasoning to make the best possible decision in every situation.
If you’re trying to leverage all the advantages of Industry 4.0, you can benefit from a partner who understands BPM. Get into HighGear and harness the power of the fourth industrial revolution by using a highly secure, sophisticated, and easy-to-deploy BPM platform.