Today, we are under a bit of a confusing yet transforming phase of business & technology. Even before the pandemic, the businesses around the world was already amidst an Industry 4.0 transformation, and the pandemic made it stop and start from scratch. Many business managements across the globe are yet to realize the full potential of digital manufacturing, while few manufacturing departments have even prepared for Industry 4.0. In most nations, the manufacturing industry is the backbone of their gross domestic product and also among the highest contributors to exports and imports, with Industry 4.0 is further planning to increase their efficiency and adapt to changing technology.
What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 is seen as the fourth industrial revolution based on the fourth revolution and based on machine to machine communication (M2M) and the internet of things (IoT). The manufacturing industry has turned from hand labor to steam engine to technology to the internet and now to one hundred percent automation of production processes. Automation isn’t considered the best word for this; another widely accepted term for Industry 4.0 is smart technology.
Industry 4.0 can be taken as an advanced step in automation and digital transformation. The current computers are also being produced to support these systems where machines are communicating with each other and making certain decisions. These transformations have also led to the rise of digital supply chains, resulting in four significant betterments:
- Improved efficiency by decreasing error rates and ensuring flexibility in automation.
- Enhanced accessibility and clarity of information across the whole supply chain to accelerate the communication and process.
- Advancement of analytics and assessing tools to improve planning and forecasting further.
- Digital tools result in higher employee productivity and safety.
Aspects That Will Be Given More Emphasis
1. Artificial Intelligence
The increased efficiency, flexibility, and smooth management will only be because of artificial intelligence. The goal here is to eliminate human oversight from computer systems as it can cause delays, ineffectiveness, and is more prone to overlooking the slight errors.
Artificial intelligence, as it works on protocols, has more considerable attention to detail and the ability to spot the deviations. The A.I. will identify the signs of a potential machine failure and will improve quality control.
In the long-term, it will result in decreased marginal production costs. The A.I. can analyze a large amount of data and also present it in any given manner as per preference, order, and more. The data can also be personalized to appeal to existing customers and encourage them to sign up for other services.
2. Internet of Things
IoT is the reason why all this is possible. Imagine the situation of machines and computers talking and directing each other just like you can do with our smartphones, refrigerator, T.V., and more. This is the defining transformation in the manufacturing industry.
Day by day, more and more consumers buy smart products. IoT has already started becoming an essential part of our lives. These smart devices are getting more intelligent through the accumulation of data. Through these same features, digital business tactics will be transformed to smart business tactics.
With time, the ability of devices to share data faster, clearer, and the smoother process will lead to boost this process ahead. This will result in less wastage of effort and higher efficiency in all business operations.
3. Increased Need Of Marketing
Initially, education and awareness are the two points where the marketers will have to focus on. The marketers need to be first made aware of the definition and purpose of Industry 4.0; only then can firms leverage their potential.
Now, as in the case of smart gadgets, how marketers made their target audience aware and many times, learn how to use the products. Same way, they’ll have to repeat this process for the new consumers. Not all businesses are used to such a high A.I., data sets, and machine integration.
Effective marketing strategies need to be drawn in the traditional manner, that hesitant business managements can understand and trust the long-term benefits of this revolution. Top-notch digital marketing and content marketing will be required to reach consumers in different parts of the world and make them realize the advantages of this opportunity.
Like every other marketing initiative, the goal should be to answer all the questions and convert the leads into sales through proper guidance and information. The markers can also use A.I. to come up with new and innovative ways of transferring this information. The A.I. in content management will lead to more localized and compelling content and strategies for each distinct area.
Cybersecurity is the term that needs to be talked about in marketing campaigns, business processes, and many other business aspects when a client is introduced to A.I. and IoT. Every potential client will assume the threat of security and privacy when such sensitive processes will be automated and fully digitalized. The thought of the risks of cyber attacks will be evident.
The marketers will have to find an effective way to address this issue in their marketing strategy and ensure that clients are fully aware of the security plan and its effectiveness. The dimensions like corporate security, product security, digital supply chain information, and other sensitive facts to be protected shall be expressed. Including the software solutions and competency of such security in campaigns will be crucial and beneficial.
Expected Rise In Demand of Manufacturing Consultants And IT Consultants
Everyone knows what a manufacturing consultant does. But at this time, during the transition to AI and IoT, they, along with an IT consultant or the IT department of your company, can streamline the process of manufacturing. When the whole process is shifted to complete automation and digitalization, your requirement of unskilled labor will significantly decrease. In contrast, your managers will have to be made proficient with the new systems in various aspects. Being aware of these innovations and systems, the manufacturing consultants will adapt your business towards these new processes. They also know how to design the new process in a way that provides the best output.
The consultants also have the experience of working with various businesses and industries. They are aware of how this setup works. They can even suggest the management of the best configuration of this setup for their particular business. They understand the manufacturing process to its core and have the ability to customize the solutions as per your business. The IT consultants will make your management proficient in it and provide training to the department in case of any failure or disturbance. They will suggest the best practices, technology, and set up for smooth and consistent operations. Industry 4.0 is all about the correct cooperation between manufacturing consultants and IT consultants.
Guidelines/Tips For Preparing For Industry 4.0
1. Take Your Time To understand
During industrialization, many companies adopted steam engines and incurred huge losses. This happened mainly because either they didn’t wait for a standardized version or didn’t understand the working enough to carry on large scale production. Every new technology has its own limits, and a different way of working, which needs to be understood first. In the era of AI and IoT, the same mistake will only result in huge losses.
Here the head management and consultants need to set a long-term vision of digital innovation and invest only in those technologies that stay true with that vision. The vision shall be for years to come and shall include the assumption of the shifts in demands and technology.
2. Tracking The Changes In The Market
Digital dynamics have been known to be dynamic and continuously changing. So in such instances, it is important to be mentally prepared for the change and invest as per the current rate of change. The head management needs to adjust their goals as per evolving markets, competition, and technologies. With the digital era, the technologies are evolving more rapidly. For being ready for digital business tactics, firms need to learn to analyze data and be open to updates and changes.
3. Believe in External Assistance
It is understood that a company will always have hired the best for their firms. But no manager can be a know-it-all, even in their specialization. In the case of AI and IOT, it is better if organizations outsource or consult from external experts. This is because these experts know better about this new yet changing technology, it’s scope, its nature, and working from its core.
They will help establish a digital process and do it in the best way respective to your needs, budget, and product category. As this is an ever-changing and evolving technology, these experts will also help to adapt to the updates through time.
4. Keep The Business Instinct Alive
Often leaders get a bit extra optimistic or excited with the new cost-effective innovations. But in reality, they need to check the operating efficiency levels, scrap rates, utilization rates of existing machines, and extended life spans of expensive production assets and compare them with the investment they’ll be making.
Also, the product quality and standards need to be maintained with this new set of technology. The return on investment, in this case, the benefit of better production yield, decreased defective goods, and smoother processes, are among the key parameters of measuring success.
Industry 4.0 will commence a new era in the area of production. This also means an opportunity for firms to have a first-mover advantage by adapting to new technologies. The firms that will understand their processes, then understand the changes that industry 4.0 brings and cross-examine their requirements, position, budget, competition, and other such factors will only prove to have taken the correct decision.
Mr. Jaydeep Solanki is a Principal – Business Development at Value Growth Audit. Following his management studies, he gained experience as a consultant in the manufacturing and service industry. Today he boasts ten years of experience in this field. Assisting businesses to grow and develop is his passion; the Value Growth Audit is the medium to provide management consultancy services to all businesses, especially small and medium enterprises. He also aims to digitalize the management consultancy services through VGA.