You are an established manufacturer with a commanding presence in your market. You are always keenly attuned to every development in the manufacturing sector in Canada, and you have been hearing more and more buzz about the coming of the 4th industrial revolution. But when you look out your window, you don’t actually see new types of industries or any sign of a revolution. So, in simple terms, what does it mean for you and your company?
What exactly is the fourth industrial revolution, also called Industry 4.0?
The fourth industrial revolution is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality, Internet of Things and 3D printing.
Industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing that leverages the technologies just mentioned. It’s powered by inter-dependencies among cloud computing, mobile computing, social media, and big data. When fully taken advantage of, digital technologies can help manufacturers turn into highly innovative, fast-growing and more agile companies.
But what does this actually mean? What lies behind all these technologies?
Simply put: data, YOUR data!
The data that your current systems, employees, clients, suppliers and the market already produce.
Why is this a revolution, if the data already exists? Because, for the first time, technology allows you to truly combine all of this data and act upon it, create new products based on actual client demand, improve your logistics chain based on your suppliers’ and employees’ actions, and increase sales by taking customer experience to unprecedented levels!
Are these ideas and approaches novel? Of course not. But until now, only the largest corporations had the means to implement such an approach. The democratization of information technology, of the Cloud and of mobility, as well as the sustained growth of information processing capacity, has opened the door to manufacturers of all sizes.
And data is gold: digital technology today can provide a company with data it didn’t know it was generating. That data can be organized, sorted and examined with lightning speed, and generate results and conclusions that can be worth millions.
Besides, when technology is applied to an organizational structure, everything gets better. When everyone is on the same page, which happens when an organization is fully self-aware, innovation and ideas abound. Take control of your data, integrate it into your ERP systems, and unleash your full manufacturing potential!
Perhaps the best way to think about Industry 4.0 is that it is creating companies that operate as whole entities rather than as companies that are simply the sum of their various parts.