In a recent survey, 76% of manufacturers said they would increase their investment and use of smart devices or embedded intelligent into the manufacturing processes within the next few years. In the same survey, 66% of the manufacturing CEOs expect to increase profitability through the use of new technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) within the next five years. According to these results, Industry 4.0 is being adopted far and wide.
So, what do they know that you don’t?
Advances in Technology are happening at a rapid pace, and it takes special attention to not only understand how new technology functions but also how it can actually help. Indeed, is it hype or help? From a CEO’s point of view, how new technology works is secondary to how adoption could impact the company and its bottom-line.
What to consider before adopting Industry 4.0
Most investigations have shown there are 3 popular areas to consider for implementing I-4.0:
- Supply Chain Management Shipping and Logistics
- Document Management
Most CEOs have heard about Industry 4.0 and how it’s supposed to be a “new industrial revolution.” However, most real revolutions take time to gain traction before becoming transformational. Early adopters can make risky investments in new technology as bugs and integration problems can cause havoc with ROI, and create potential unforeseen problems. Technology is wonderful when it works as advertised. So, as each CEO may have different levels of risk-reward tolerance, there are ways to ease into I-4.0 with little risk and a good ROI. The following are some suggestions on how to approach the early adoption of the “new revolution.”
1. Identify the Best Opportunities Within the Operations and Budgetary Context.
As Supply Chain Management is supposed to be perhaps the most beneficial recipient of I-4.0, it’s a good place to start. For example, there are new applications and associated hardware that allows for more efficient capture of barcode data. The Smart Glove provides easier and more efficient scanning and does not require a huge investment nor a sophisticated network.
2. Assess Existing Network and IT Infrastructure.
Before adding any additional I-4.0 tools, assess the company’s existing IT capabilities and potential integration problems. Crypto devices may be something new for the IT department, and they need to be directly involved in any potential I-4.0 projects.
3. Decide if Embedded Devices are a Viable Alternative.
Of course, what the optimal potential solutions for I-4.0 will depend on the type of operations. Normally, before any new technology is taken on, a Business Analyst or Expert should do an appraisal of what solution would be best for now and in the future. The analysis should also include an estimated ROI for the investment needed.
4. Include Users in the Decision Process.
Users can provide valuable input as to the practicalities and potential problems of any new systems. Indeed, there are points in most processes where tangential users should also be included.
5. Consider Potential Integration Problems With Legacy Systems.
Unfortunately, legacy systems may not be compatible with some new technologies. However, oftentimes little glitches can cause havoc as well as discourage attempts to make changes. Vendors of any new I-4.0 technologies should be made responsible for successful integration with all legacy systems. As is the case today, many new SaaS applications are bolted on to existing systems and can be problematic.
Innovation and transformation are words that permeate most business conversations but exactly what these “buzz words” mean is still a bit hazy.
Will I-4.0 really be the game changer or just another smaller evolutionary step?