Industry 4.0: unlocking the opportunities

Posted on 12 Sep 2016 by The Manufacturer

Industry 4.0 is set to transform manufacturing. Andy Gough explores some of the opportunities it brings.

Andy Gough, general manager, Datawright.
Andy Gough, general manager, Datawright.

A 2016 survey by The Manufacturer revealed that 62% of manufacturers were either ‘aware’ or ‘very aware’ of Industry 4.0. For a term that wasn’t coined until 2011, that’s quite remarkable.

However, there is still confusion about what exactly Industry 4.0 is. At Datawright, we think that some element of confusion is understandable. As with any new business paradigm, it takes time for a shared sense of understanding to emerge.

1 + 1 = 3

The term ‘Industry 4.0’ is a reference to the fourth industrial revolution, following the three prior industrial revolutions – heralded by steam and water power, electricity, and electronics.

Granted, that doesn’t help us understand what it is. But it does help us to understand the scale of Industry 4.0’s impact.

Industry 4.0 is a fusion of significant and emerging technologies: big data; advanced analytics; the internet of things (IoT); digital modelling; additive manufacturing, computer-integrated manufacturing and so on.

Datawright Internet of Things Blog Industry 4.0 Image
A 2016 survey by The Manufacturer revealed that 62% of manufacturers were either ‘aware’ or ‘very aware’ of Industry 4.0 – image courtesy of Datawright.

Smart everything

Greater connectivity through IoT, for instance, brings smart manufacturing, with sensors and controllers on factory floors communicating with each other, and central control systems.

Remote monitoring and control becomes a practical proposition, as does ‘cobotics’ – humans and robots working together, side by side.

This connectivity extends right along the supply chain. Think of new business models such as servitization, for instance, or devices on customers’ and suppliers’ premises ‘calling home’ for replenishment, or maintenance.

Already, remotely-triggered maintenance is reaching homes and factories, thanks to IoT-powered diagnostics.

Industry 4.0 Real-time Reporting Supply Chain ERP Digital Data - image courtesy of Datawright
Greater connectivity through IoT, for instance, brings smart manufacturing – image courtesy of Datawright.

IoT connectivity isn’t just about transmitting simple transactions: thanks to advanced analytics and big data analysis, Industry 4.0 permits manufacturers to analyse sensor data for new and powerful insights — insights into their manufacturing processes, as well as insights into customer behaviour.

And Industry 4.0 is set to develop in ways that we can’t yet anticipate.

Manufacturing systems

All of which will inevitably put a strain on manufacturers’ ERP systems. For a start, they will need to be open to greater connectivity, greater analytics, and new business models.

Longer term, too, it’s likely that the distinction between ERP, CRM and MES systems will blur, as Industry 4.0 delivers more data on which to base decisions.

For more information please get in touch:
+44(0)191 4194190 [email protected]

As a provider of specialist manufacturing ERP software, we’ve recently developed a working prototype to demonstrate how Industry 4.0’s smarter manufacturing technologies can make a practical impact on the factory floor. You may have seen ‘Thing 1’ at one of our Industry Insights Seminars.

We’re acutely aware of the potential for manufacturers to steal a march on their competition by making sure that their ERP systems are poised to exploit the opportunities that Industry 4.0 will present.

At Datawright we’re committed to building a culture of innovation; helping our customers to exploit smarter manufacturing technologies is at the heart of what we do.

Connect ERP: meet the supplier – November 23, 2016

Datawright is sponsoring the upcoming Connect ERP, being held at the Jaguar Visitor Centre in Castle Bromwich.

For five years, Connect ERP has been changing the way UK businesses approach software selection by minimising the overall time and effort involved in qualifying potential enterprise software vendors.

This unique event offers a one of a kind opportunity for you, and your team, to see the premier enterprise software solutions, in one place at the same time!

You can find out more information here.