The business benefits of Industry 4.0

The fourth industrial revolution – dubbed Industry 4.0 – is rapidly changing how manufacturing and engineering companies operate.

Smart production techniques are nothing new. They’ve been with us for several years now and have enabled manufacturers and engineers to continue to innovate and diversify.

However, where earlier technology simply helped producers speed up their existing processes or create new standalone solutions, Industry 4.0 applications and technologies take things to a whole new level.

They enable smart manufacturing techniques to fundamentally transform how manufacturers and engineers compete. Industry 4.0 technologies integrate traditionally distinct processes.

Once connected, they increase speed, agility and flexibility, enabling efficient cross-functional collaboration and automation across the entire manufacturing lifecycle, from product design and process planning to production.

Industry 4.0 solutions give manufacturers and engineers more capacity and greater capabilities to drive their competitive advantage.

They help production facilities to cut costs, boost safety, speed-up product development, increase accuracy, enhance productivity and reduce the time it takes to bring new innovations to market.

Taken together, the impact this can have on a company’s bottom line is significant and is an efficient way to grow market share, break into new markets and improve profitability.

How Industry 4.0 creates competitive advantage

To illustrate how important Industry 4.0 is to the future of manufacturing and engineering, it’s essential to understand how the sectors have changed over the past two decades. Here are some of the significant shifts and trends we’ve seen:

Capacity vs capability

In the not too distant past, most factories were judged by their production capacity, with the key metric being how many units they could make and shift. However, big shifts in consumer buying behaviour, driven by the boom in ecommerce and the instant-access, ‘on-demand’ purchasing experience it has created, means factories are now judged on the range of products they can produce.

This shift in emphasis, from production capacity to production capability, creates challenges for manufacturers which need to be agile enough to meet a wide variety of customer needs. While technology plays a crucial role in bringing this about, so does strategy.

It’s no longer enough to focus all your efforts on optimising production, it’s also about being adaptable enough to meet the needs of customers demanding unique products.

Productivity vs agility

As alluded to above, productivity is not the only thing that manufacturers and engineers need to consider. Focus must also be placed on making their production facilities as agile as possible to ensure they can respond quickly and effectively to changing customer demands.

It’s important to note that this change isn’t being driven by technology. Customers are driving this change in the market with their ever-changing demands for new or different products and solutions, but technology is the enabler. Industry 4.0 applications help manufacturers be more agile and responsive, so they can pivot quickly to capitalise on opportunities and continue giving their customers what they want.

Unskilled vs specialist labour

In the past, manufacturers kept their costs down by locating their production facilities in low-cost locations, where unskilled workers could make mass-produced goods quickly and cheaply.

However, Industry 4.0 has created the shift towards factories where skilled engineers and production professionals run highly specialised equipment and production lines operated by sophisticated electrical control systems computer programming.

These are high-value jobs requiring specialist skills, knowledge and expertise.

Mass vs digital production

Industry 4.0 is helping to create the smart factories of the future by bringing production to the core of every manufacturing business strategy.
Factories are becoming more digitised across every stage of the production lifecycle, from design and development to planning, process engineering and delivery.

It’s no longer about simply making old processes run faster or making people work harder. The future is about using Industry 4.0 technologies and applications to help factories work smarter.

Industry 4.0 is a business strategy

Industry 4.0 can help elevate the importance of production to a new level and play an essential role role in adapting to ever-evolving market expectations and customer demands.

However, that can happen only when smart manufacturing becomes an integral part of your business strategy.

It’s all about creating a vision for how you will leverage Industry 4.0 technologies and techniques to transform your business model. Getting ahead of the game is essential, as Industry 4.0 will continue to grow and become more commonplace in even the smallest factories and production facilities.

So, if you’re ready to make your manufacturing processes smarter, safer and more sustainable, Banelec can help. Get in touch today to find out how.