Industry 4.0 is game changing. It provides a way to improve productivity, lower costs and help counter competition from mass production in low-wage economies.
As well as improved productivity and reduced costs Industry 4.0 can help you analyse data to increase sales, improve quality, provide better safety for your employees and result in an improved customer experience. Improvements in efficiency can also optimise production and value chain processes thus improving your environmental credentials.
All this is possible by using sensing to track jobs, processes, assets and workers. Find pallets, components and sub-assemblies more easily. Wearable sensors provide for the safety of employees, timekeeping and human capacity planning. Sensors on site vehicles such as forklifts can help ensure they are fully utilised. Fixed sensors provide for predictive maintenance and remote asset management to reduce failures and downtime due to maintenance. Products become uniquely identifiable and traceable. The status of processes becomes visible throughout the supply chain. Products and sub-assemblies gain a history that can be used to track errors, build times, stoppages and aid later product repair. The overall ‘big’ data can be used to optimise processes and detect abnormal situations.
Markets are demanding smaller batches and individual components. Take advantage of additive manufacturing to create smaller batches or one-off products. Use the same technologies to fabricate some of your own spares.
These changes are already happening. The Vodafone IoT Barometer 2019 measured that 34% of organisations have now adopted IoT, particularly in the transport, manufacturing and financial services sectors.
“IoT is enabling transport and logistics companies to track the location of vehicles, cargo and assets in real-time. This is helping them cut fuel use, avoid delays and trace problems more quickly.”
The same Vodafone report cited 60% of adopters saying that IoT will have completely disrupted their industry in five years’ time.
The gains are long term. The UK’s Made Smarter Review estimated that industrial digitisation could be worth as much as £455bn to Britain’s manufacturers over the next decade, increasing sector growth up to 3% per year, and creating a net gain of 175,000 jobs whilst reducing CO2 emissions by 4.5%.