Advancements in technology have demolished the line between the digital and physical worlds. Intelligent, interconnected systems seamlessly support and perform activities across the entire business.
Machines talk to products and other machines, delivering decision-critical data, and information is processed and distributed in real time. This shift has been dubbed ‘Industry 4.0’.
Coined in 2011, ‘Industry 4.0’ is the umbrella term used to describe a fusion of different technologies, such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). According to a survey by The Manufacturer, 56% of manufacturers are planning to invest in the IoT; so it’s high on the strategic agenda.
But these technologies can also lead to disaster. Without fully understanding the vulnerabilities, your organisation will be exposed to enormous financial, operational and reputational risk.
How to protect the organisation
John Oakland, founder of Oakland Consulting and author of Total Quality Management, says: “A robust quality management system is essential to successfully manage risk.
“For this to happen, there needs to be a shift in mindset from one where quality is associated with control, compliance and cost, an excessive focus on internal capability and overly bureaucratic processes.
“The quality management system must now be an enabler by building learning organisations which are quick to learn, avoid excessive costs and the reputational impacts of getting it wrong.”
Meeting the 21st century compliance challenge requires the right tools. W. E. Rawson Ltd, a textile manufacturer based in West Yorkshire, have integrated operational manufacturing systems with EQMS, an electronic quality management system developed by Qualsys.
Lee Clack, quality manager at W. E. Rawson, said: “We have event-based triggers from our equipment and operational floor which starts an enforceable workflow in EQMS. This helps improve the communication between the operational team and other areas of the organisation. Qualsys Ltd, supplier of EQMS, are investing heavily in more integrated, smart quality management software.
Michael Ord, new business and marketing director at Qualsys Ltd, said: “New technologies can support activities along the value chain. They can reduce costs and improve efficiency. They can accelerate time to market and improve scalability. And they can give customers customised and smarter products.
“But these new technologies need to enhance communication with the rest of the organisation – not create silos. We are developing EQMS to integrate with all sorts of different systems to capture, interpret and escalate that data to the employees who need to deal with it.
“One very exciting new project we are working on is our Beacons. These Beacons take data from anywhere – the manufacturing floor, equipment, office environments, logistics vehicles. The potential with these Beacons, when integrated with EQMS, is endless. For example, when your new equipment needs maintenance, EQMS will automatically manage the process.”
Ord adds: “We are always looking for more partners and technology start-ups to further develop our technology and provide more in the customer value chain.”