Industry 4.0 is considered the fourth manufacturing revolution since the late 1700s. Essentially, Industry 4.0 (or I4) has taken the digital revolution one-step further by automating manufacturing technologies and enabling them to have insight into the entire production line. These automated processes can then make independent decisions, increasing productivity and eliminating waste.
The Internet of Things
Connecting I4 technologies to others like it via the internet allows companies the ability to access big data on this technology. The data can then provide information on the productivity and the activity within the technology or process. It will then communicate key information to previously identified members of the work environment when something goes awry.
Outcome information from The Internet of Things can be essential to small businesses looking to break into bigger markets. Information such as market costs, product quality, and customer satisfaction can help small businesses make big decisions about their foray into the market.
The ‘How To’
Contrary to a few years ago, I4 technologies are relatively easy to access and don’t always break the bank. Still, there are a few things you can do to bring Industry 4.0 standards to your company:
- Take a closer look at your logistics and supply chain procedures. What would be helpful to know about these processes? If every area in the supply chain is connected to the internet, they can provide individualized data to the rest of the areas, helping optimize the potential of the supply chain itself.
- There is no shortage of options for implementing I4 or Internet of Things technologies into any workflow. What do some of these opportunities look like in your organization? Analyzing current systems from this perspective will help identify any patterns in the way mistakes are made and provide real-time feedback for how to address them.
- Depending on the budget, it may be worth it to invest in autonomous equipment, vehicles, and even robots. These technologies can augment the productivity of the organization, streamline processes, and cut excess tasks where possible.
- Adaptability: Automated systems free up the time of traditional workers, allowing them to focus on more human-centered tasks and needs.
- Market Trends: Organizations can view and manage trends in the market very easily, helping the organization save money by predicting potential market values.
- Productivity: Recent research suggests that I4 technologies, like Augmented Reality (AR), can increase productivity by more than 30%.
- Trainer Time: Companies that invest in the I4 model will often encourage their trainers to film their sessions and build online training applications. Once this happens, trainers no longer have to teach repetitive sessions, freeing them up to participate in other aspects of the organization.
For small manufacturing companies looking to grow, investing in I4 technologies may be the best way to get started.