How to Approach Industry 4.0 – Your 2020 Checklist

Will 2020 be the year that Industry 4.0 finally makes the leap from overhyped buzzword to a truly pervasive force throughout the manufacturing industry? We certainly hope so. Here’s your 2020 checklist for maximising the potential of Industry 4.0 for your manufacturing business.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? To dust off the gym pass that’s been left untouched for months? To have a proper bash at dry or vegan January? To read a book a week?

The New Year is a time for reflecting on what has come before and planning for what lies ahead, in both our personal and our professional lives. In the manufacturing industry there’s barely a week that goes by when conversation doesn’t turn to that buzziest of buzzwords – Industry 4.0.

4IR Iot industry 4.0 concept,industrial engineer using smart glasses with augmented mixed with virtual reality technology to monitoring machine in real time.Smart factory use Automation robot arm– image courtesy of Depositphotos.

At Six Degrees we’re helping manufacturers make the resolution to turn Industry 4.0 into an achievable reality that brings tangible benefits to their process efficiencies and – ultimately – their profits.

The truth is that any manufacturer, regardless of scale, can implement operational enhancements that will maximise their potential to reap the rewards of transformational Industry 4.0 practices.

There are practical, achievable cloud-based technology foundations you can put in place that will have an immediate impact on your ability to reduce downtime, scale to meet changing demand, make evidenced process decisions and introduce manufacturing automation.

In this article we take a look at five steps you can take to prepare your manufacturing business for Industry 4.0. See it as your 2020 checklist.

1. Choose the Right Infrastructure

Successful Industry 4.0 deployments manipulate and model data relentlessly. In order to facilitate this you need to ensure you have an architecture that flexes accordingly.

Selecting the most appropriate hosting location for each individual workload is essential. This may well mean hosting different workloads on public cloud, private cloud, local infrastructures or hybrid cloud, respectively, depending on what is most suitable for each workload.

By carrying out a cloud readiness assessment you will be able to establish how your infrastructure operates today, and develop a roadmap to get you to where you want to be.

This assessment can also help you to identify areas where you can run your infrastructure more efficiently and make tangible cost savings, freeing up budget to support innovation.

2. Implement Secure Connectivity

Cloud applications are only as reliable as the connectivity they run on. Look for connectivity technologies that complement your infrastructure and drive flexible, always-on configurations.

Consider SD-WAN overlays to optimise both throughput and uptime, prioritising traffic against specific resource demands and ensuring efficient use of your inter-site network connectivity.

3. Always Secure Everything

Manufacturing is the fifth most targeted industry vertical in the UK,  with more than 50% of manufacturers having been the victim of cybercrime. For all its benefits, Industry 4.0 introduces complexity and risk.

Whenever you introduce Industry 4.0-aligned capabilities, always evaluate the security risks. And remember these risks aren’t just technology-based – they incorporate the breadth of your people, processes and systems.

4. Ensure Robust Business Continuity

Downtime is the enemy of productivity. The latest cloud-based backup and disaster recovery technology will give you flexibility and scalability in your data protection arrangements, and will allow you to minimise the recovery window and recover rapidly from disaster scenarios.

You should consider backup and disaster recovery technologies that offer geographic diversity for additional safeguarding.

Ultimately, your data protection arrangements should enable you to reduce resource overhead and management burden, all whilst enhancing security through advanced encryption both in-flight and at rest.

5. Consider Outsourcing Support

IT support is essential to the ongoing operational success of your manufacturing business. But is it really necessary to keep it in-house?

By outsourcing IT support you remove the burden of managing and supporting your IT estate, allowing your IT department to utilise its expertise to focus on organisational objectives to drive innovation and growth rather than being tied up with business as usual support activity.

Industry 4.0 – Your 2020 Checklist

Even if the dry January doesn’t stick, taking steps towards implementing Industry 4.0 best practices is a resolution we believe all manufacturers should be making in 2020.

And remember that you don’t need to go it alone; an experienced technology partner like Six Degrees will be able to support you throughout your entire Industry 4.0 journey.

To find out more, download the Roadmap to Industry 4.0 whitepaper in which we explore the industry context behind Industry 4.0, battle some of the more persistent Industry 4.0 buzzwords, and make the case for adopting a more realistic approach to your Industry 4.0 roadmap: laying stable foundations before transitioning to a transformational cloud model.

Or kick start your Industry 4.0 cloud journey in 2020, by registering for a free hybrid cloud adoption strategy workshop that will help you define your business priorities and uncover the factors that will influence your cloud adoption strategy.