Industry 4.0, or “Smart Manufacturing” if you prefer the U.S. term, covers a broad range of concepts and technologies, from 3D printing to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). At its core, it is about combining the physical world, of products and manufacturing machines, with the digital world of rapid communication, advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence. That has the potential to do all sorts of good things for manufacturers, like improving the accuracy of their demand forecasts, the flexibility of their production systems and the reliability of their assets.
Achieving the promised benefits won’t be easy, however. One side-effect of today’s technological change is a shift from general purpose technologies and devices, like PCs and PLCs, to highly specialised solutions tailored for individual applications. The building blocks for your Industry 4.0 solutions are as likely to come from a new start-up or an adjacent industry as they are from the equipment suppliers you used in the past. The systems that can identify hidden trends in mountains of production data are often based on the approaches retailers use to learn from loyalty card data or online purchasing habits, for example.
And while technology is an essential enabler, it isn’t the whole solution. There are also important cultural implications: your people will have to be comfortable switching from manual to automated processes, and ready to trust the decisions made by their data systems. You’ll need to be pragmatic: your smart manufacturing systems will have to work with your existing assets and infrastructure. And you’ll need to be bold: taking risks and experimenting with new ideas to gain vital knowhow and valuable experience.
With over 50 years’ experience as an industrial systems integrator, Capula is uniquely positioned to help you take this bold leap to the world of Industry 4.0.
Our expertise, combined with an extensive portfolio of technologies from leading vendors, enables us to help your business exploit the growing potential from industrial digitisation.
Are you interested in demonstrating real business value from Industry 4.0 in your organisation? For more information about the points discussed in this article get in touch with our Capula Futures team.