Industry 4.0: less talk and more action

Posted on 18 Mar 2017 by The Manufacturer

As the concept of Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, smart factories, big data and digitalisation makes headlines, will manufacturers realise the full potential of the available technologies, and use them to their full advantage?

How prepared are manufacturers to invest in Industry 4.0 capabilities designed to deliver these benefits? Or will they be put off by the associated challenges and perceived cost and complexity of Industry 4.0 implementations?

Being at the forefront of Industry 4.0 and taking advantage of the potential opportunities will allow manufacturers, big or small, to achieve business outcomes that weren’t possible 10 years ago, such as improving cost-effectiveness and product quality.

As supply chains become more complex and the need for manufacturers to operate globally increases, it’s important that manufacturers embrace the available software technology to meet these demands. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which connects equipment, people, processes and supply chains, is becoming more accessible to manufacturers of all sizes.

Industry 4.0: go deeper

If you would like to find out more about Cimlogic’s Industry 4.0 solutions and how it can help set your Industry 4.0 journey in motion, visit Cimlogic at The Industry 4.0 Summit, Manchester Central Convention Complex on 4-5 April, 2017.

Steve Wilkinson, chief technology officer at Cimlogic, will be discussing this topic further at the Open Technology Forum within the Industry 4.0 Summit.

Attend the presentation Playing Catch-up: How industry 4.0 technologies can enable SMEs to bring their Manufacturing Operations Management up to speed to help implement your successful Industry 4.0 strategy.

According to the results of The Manufacturer Industry 4.0 UK Readiness report, 69% of respondents stated that Industry 4.0 was going to have a significant impact on their business, and 56% of respondents reported a firm intent to invest in Industry 4.0.

Additionally, 64% of these firm respondents are planning to invest in the next 12 months, of which 71% plan to invest in production, following by 44% in R&D, and 42% in IT.

The research suggests that more than two-thirds of manufacturers are well aware of the impact of Industry 4.0, but only half are actually intending on taking action.

Why might this be? Is there a lack of knowledge about how Industry 4.0 can be applied into the production environment? The biggest challenge is ‘where do I start?’ and ‘where should I invest?’.

Initially manufacturers should look at where they could gain real value, and fully understand their key business drivers such as reducing downtime, increasing output, and improving quality. Establishing this will form the core of a phased approach to implementing Industry 4.0.

The recently published Industrial Strategy by government, presents the 10 Pillars to building an Industrial Strategy, which includes ‘investing in science, research and innovation’ and ‘driving growth across the whole country’. Investing in innovative technologies such as Industry 4.0 will no doubt drive this long-term growth in productivity that the government is striving for.

Connecting the dots

At Cimlogic, we believe that connecting technologies, people and processes is at the heart of improving productivity and the core of implementing an effective Industry 4.0 strategy.

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According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), improving productivity results in improved living standards.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says that improving productivity results in improved living standards ‘because an increase in productivity translates into an increase in output (amount and quality) without any increase in input (labour and materials)’.

It also suggests that there are generally two ways to improve productivity: the purchase of better machinery, and a new process which allows a worker to increase the speed or quality of what they are doing.

Feeling the pressure?

There’s pressure on manufacturers to increase operational efficiency to remain competitive and innovative, as market conditions remain challenging and are changing faster than ever before. To react to changing market conditions, quickly and effectively manufacturers need to start adapting to advanced technologies now.

Not big enough to adapt?

However, some manufacturers feel that their operations aren’t big enough to adapt, others feel overwhelmed with the pace of change, anticipating large capital expenditure, for which budgets don’t exist.

So, where are SMEs currently in their technological journey? Historically, the limiting factors for SMEs adopting new technologies, such as cost and maintenance, have held them back. However, the Industry 4.0 technologies that are emerging can be viable for small and medium manufacturers.

Small changes, BIG improvements

Industry 4.0 doesn’t have to mean implementing large scale projects involving costly IT expenditure.

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Industry 4.0 doesn’t have to mean implementing large scale projects involving costly IT expenditure.

Carrying out even the smallest of changes can help achieve significant gains in efficiency, and can be implemented straight away with minimum effort. Perhaps manufacturers need to think small first and treat Industry 4.0 as a journey of transformation, one that doesn’t happen overnight.

Planning Your Strategy

Before manufacturers start to connect their enterprise, they must ensure that they: have a reliable, robust, secure infrastructure; understand the key business drivers, and use this information to gain full optimisation of operations.

Ensuring that the organisation, its people, processes, and technology all talk to each other is key to having a connected value chain and establishing a phased approach to Industry 4.0.

Cimlogic is ideally placed to help all manufacturers, including SMEs, move forward with Industry 4.0 technologies, assessing where their current capabilities lie and where the opportunities to improve exist.

Industry 4.0, is not just for multinational organisations, and whole IT systems don’t need to be redesigned to accommodate this new technology.

The four-phased approach to implementing Industry 4.0 technologies includes:

Step 1: Industry 4.0 Benchmark Assessment

Cimlogic will access and evaluate all existing IT and OT (Operational Technology) infrastructures within the manufacturing operations. Taking a good look at the current state of operations, and considering the future state, while always keeping in mind the key objectives that need addressing, such as: reducing downtime; improving productivity; reducing waste; increasing Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), and so on.

Step 2: Performance & Infrastructure Audit

Cimlogic will collect data from existing disparate systems, and where necessary deploy a temporary monitoring solution to give an accurate overview of the operations – without changes to existing infrastructure. As well as gathering information from manufacturing production, Cimlogic will evaluate the complete organisational structure, including processes and resource framework in order to create full visibility of operations.

Step 3: Insight & Capability Analysis

Following on from step two, Cimlogic will evaluate what level of operation the organisation currently falls under, whether it’s ad-hoc and reactive, planned and consistent, or if standardised processes are in place. Cimlogic will then recommend what steps can be taken to improve on the current level of operations, taking advantage of the opportunities highlighted in the data collected in Step 2. Carrying out these recommendations will not only increase performance and ultimately the bottom line in the short term, but will also be the building blocks of the Manufacturing Transformation Strategy.

Step 4: Manufacturing Transformation Strategy

This will enable the manufacturer to plan, strategise and implement Industry 4.0 technologies, that are appropriate, timely and scalable for the business. The Strategy will enable the manufacturer to achieve Operational Excellence and integrate Industry 4.0 capabilities over a realistic and managed time scale, ensuring any infrastructure expenditure is planned and connects not only technologies, but also people and processes, ensuring the plant is a factory of the future.

Are you ready to set Industry 4.0 in motion?

Our experts here at Cimlogic offer a complete Industry 4.0 solution, from an initial benchmark assessment, performance audit and capability report, to the creation of a comprehensive Manufacturing Transformation Strategy that is both realistic and achievable.

For more information about Cimlogic’s technologies, please visit our dedicated Industry 4.0 resource webpage or download the Industry 4.0 brochure.