How and why are manufacturers embracing Industry 4.0? Oracle reflects on the discussions from its latest webinar.
Regular readers of The Manufacturer will probably recall a research report that we published earlier this year, sponsored by Oracle, which examined this very question.
In July, we followed this up with a webinar, again sponsored by Oracle. And like the initial research report, it featured analysis by The Manufacturer’s own Malcolm Wheatley.
But unlike the original research report, the webinar provided a powerful platform for additional content: live speakers, questions and answers, and rich case study examples.
And perhaps not surprisingly for something that’s being described as the fourth industrial revolution, preregistration advance interest was high.
Industry 4.0 webinar
The webinar began with Malcolm Wheatley welcoming attendees, and introducing the two guest speakers: Vikram Singla, product innovation and supply chain leader at Oracle, and Jonathan Gray, vice-president and European head of innovation at Hitachi Consulting.
Singla, he explained, would outline a number of user cases and early adopter case studies of Industry 4.0 in action. Gray, meanwhile, would look at funding an Industry 4.0 initiative: how manufacturers could exploit Industry 4.0 without straining their capital expenditure budgets.
But first: how aware were manufacturers of the opportunity that is offered by Industry 4.0? What benefits did manufacturers see in Industry 4.0? And how prepared were they to invest in Industry 4.0 capabilities designed to deliver those benefits?
Interestingly, it seemed that manufacturers were indeed broadly aware of the opportunities offered by Industry 4.0, with significant numbers of them having invested in understanding those opportunities, and significant numbers also confident that Industry 4.0 would have a definite impact on the business.
More surprisingly, perhaps, was the nature of that impact: low, in the case of Industry 4.0 delivering new business models and mass customisation; and high in the case of Industry 4.0 delivering improved customer service, end-to-end value chain engineering, and automation and robotics.
Either way, though, manufacturers seemed keen to embrace Industry 4.0, with 64% of respondents saying that they planned to invest in Industry 4.0 initiatives in the next twelve months, with a further 24% of respondents planning to invest in the next two to three years.
At which point, Oracle’s Vikram Singla joined in, highlighting the imperatives that Oracle’s own customers were seeing with respect to Industry 4.0, and how they had responded with respect to their own Industry 4.0 initiatives.
The bottom line: as three customer case studies made clear, manufacturers were seeking to dramatically enhance their connectivity, at the same time as achieving a step change in their level of competitiveness.
How has that increased level of competitiveness to be achieved? As the survey findings had highlighted, new service-centred business models played a part.
But perhaps more importantly, it seemed that Industry 4.0 was enhancing manufacturers’ capabilities, right across the organisation, and along the entire value chain.
Finally, Hitachi Consulting’s Jonathan Gray tackled the question on many manufacturers’ minds: how to practically get started with Industry 4.0, and how to fund an Industry 4.0 initiative.
Hitachi’s advice: set priorities based on strategic and operation needs, rather than technology readiness; understand what can be leveraged from previous investments; and tackle the challenge in bite-sized chunks, each with a clear ROI.