There is a danger that Industry 4.0 is viewed as an interesting talking point, something that happens to other manufacturing companies, but is not relevant to you. If that’s your view, Tom Leeson has some rather sobering news for you.
Manufacturers that resist the inexorable march of Industry 4.0 are in almost certain danger of disappearing within the next 10 years, left behind by competition that will be operating on an entirely different, almost unrecognisable, plane from those that failed to embrace the technology.
Close to half the manufacturing companies surveyed recently said they had no digital strategy. No plan at all. The result is that they will be shouldered aside.
Part of the problem is that articles in magazines like The Manufacturer tell wonderful stories about the possibilities new digital technologies hold for companies in the sector, but the connection is rarely made between this amazing promise and what’s actually happening on the production line.
The stumbling blocks are familiar: inertia and cost. Inertia usually stems from boards that believe that the past is a reliable guide to the future. They believe business has been very good in recent years and they are reluctant to embark on a whole new round of technology investment that they perceive will add little value to their customer offering while eating into profits.
Regrettably, nothing could be further from the truth. OEMs at the top of the supply chain are beginning to insist that the companies they work with are fully 4.0 compliant. These companies will be more agile, innovative and cost-effective, having embraced the new technology.
They will have examined their systems and processes and identified all the myriad bits of information that, if networked through the Internet of Things (IoT) and aggregated and interpreted properly, would enable them to be leaner, faster and more competitive.
By adding the technology that collects that data and channelling it through an Enterprise Information Management (EIM) system like OpenText, they have been presented with suites of information on which to base much smarter and faster business decisions.
All of that allows them to work seamlessly with customers at the top of the supply chain.
This article encapsulates the content of a webinar he gave on June 23 2016, in conjunction with The Manufacturer.
You can revisit the half hour Webinar on Demand presentation at: bit.ly/2b3WeVZ
The issue of cost is valid. Everyone is concerned about costs and no board will sign off on expensive new technology without receiving more than a promise that it will work.
It is therefore important to build a solid case and there is no shortage of materials to enable that.
For a start, there is freely available data on websites like www.opentext.com.
Indeed, the OpenText website offers a Digital Readiness Assessment Tool (bit.ly/1PoZKpN) that helps businesses build the case in a manner that completely aligns the adoption of 4.0 digital technology with their business mission.
This is critical: investment in technology without the proper context can be fatal.
Some might regard this as unnecessarily alarmist, but Industry 4.0 is not something happening somewhere else. It is changing the future of every business, now, particularly in manufacturing. Be sure you are on the right side of that change.