Data empowerment is the next frontier in Industry 4.0

Posted on 23 May 2022 by The Manufacturer
Partner Content

Manufacturers around the world face many challenges in the coming years, from the digital transformation of the global economy to the race to net zero carbon emissions – not to mention supply chain constraints and labour shortages, as well as the adoption of new technologies. Those manufacturers who are slow to adapt will find themselves losing business to competitors who are willing to push forward.

Those corporations that show business agility and operational resilience in the face of new disruptions in a post-Covid world – which involves rapid shifts in customer demand or pressure from investors to be more sustainable, reducing costs or boosting automation – will not only survive but thrive.

The global pandemic has been a valuable lesson: manufacturers have had to be flexible and nimble. It’s shown them what the ‘art of the possible’ is and how they can solve real-world business problems.

But this is only just the beginning. The fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, or 4IR, is transforming how businesses manufacture and deliver products. It is not just happening in small pockets, but across global supply chains. It is being facilitated by greater automation, robots, sensors, IoT and Edge devices, 5G networks, digital twins, cloud computing and machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Yet one of the great strategic opportunities for manufacturers today involves the use of data. Some CEOs and industry leaders have more actionable data on their personal fitness tracker than they do for their business. As AI and Machine Learning experts, we are seeing a tangible progression in the way manufacturers are now wanting to use the data they already hold, to bring optimal efficiency and accurate predictions into their operation.

Many manufacturing lines still look similar to those that operated a decade ago. Maintenance is manual, workers monitor machinery, setups for different product lines are done by hand. In reality, manufacturing is behind some other sectors and legacy systems are rife. We have seen many proofs of concept or minimum viable products related to Industry 4.0 that haven’t been scaled up or fully realised yet, as some struggle to make it a reality. However, the opportunity is there and should be exploited, as the benefits can be exponential. In fact, the potential for a step-change is huge, according to McKinsey Industry 4.0 could create up to $3.7 trillion in value for global manufacturing by 2025.

It is of note that some manufacturers are already spearheading a data-driven revolution. It’s not just about sweating capital assets more efficiently; data has the potential to drive productivity, new products and services, as well slash carbon emissions. A single digital system run on data represents the next incredible gain for manufacturers.

Innovation is the key, and data is at the heart of this process – you can’t improve what you don’t measure. It is at the core of smart manufacturing. Artificial intelligence is helping manufacturers unlock real-time operational visibility, and in turn, achieve improved process reliability and performance.

Many talk about becoming ‘data-driven’ but can struggle with where to start. Businesses need to think about their approach; prioritising use cases to understand where data can be used to drive new insights, quickly, for the best speed to value.

Data is no longer just an IT concern – it can be used across the business and is a genuine, commercial opportunity. The digital revolution is upon us, and those businesses where stakeholders come together to share KPIs and objectives to create a realistic, scalable plan for execution, are the ones to watch.

To reflect these exciting times, Inawisdom has just launched a brand new report to help manufacturers navigate Industry 4.0 and think about how to start, accelerate and future-proof their journey to digital transformation.

It’s time for manufacturers to unlock the power of their data and take Industry 4.0 to the next level.

Inawisdom is an AI and Machine Learning expert. Their new report “Time for Industry 4.0: The next stage in the data revolution” features expert perspectives and real-life case studies. Download the report