What does Industry 4.0 mean for your manufacturing business?
Missed Industry 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0? Not to worry—we’ll fast-track you to what it means to be a business owner in a 4.0 digital world. But first, here’s a quick history lesson on the industrial revolutions:
- 1st (1765)1 Mechanization, water power, steam power.
- 2nd (1870)2 Mass production, assembly line, electricity.
- 3rd (1969)3 Computer and automation.
That brings us to Industry 4.0. Commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, it’s a term for today’s trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes:
- Cyber-physical systems
- The Internet of Things (IoT)
- Cloud and cognitive computing4
If all that tech jargon makes you want to Crt+Alt+Delete out of this article, hold on—the concept is simpler than you think.
Here are 4 reasons why Industry 4.0 matters to your business:
1. ROI on IoT
You’re probably already using elements of Industry 4.0 in your manufacturing process. Things like IoT-enabled devices are Internet-enabled, capable of sharing data across a network just like a smart device does.5 While we are all familiar with the smartphones in our pockets and the smart gadgets in our homes, manufacturers are now using the same technology to maintain machinery, automate processes and monitor production.
The result is an exciting opportunity for improved ROI:
- Boost your productivity and efficiency by producing more things faster and with less downtime.
- Scale production up or down based on supply and demand.
- Reduce your costs by better utilizing your resources.6
For instance, if your employees are manually supervising your assembly line, their time (and expense) could be better spent developing new business or managing aspects of the customer experience. In short, allow the machinery to do the time-consuming tasks, and leave the creative thinking to your people.
IoT hard at work
A great real-world example of the efficiency that IoT offers is Nature Fresh Farms. Using intelligent pre-sorting of the produce on their assembly line, the company has reported a reduction in their packaging times from 35 to 45 seconds down to only 8 seconds.7
2. Big Data isn’t just for big manufacturers
The smart devices we use and the tidal wave of data they collect is known as Big Data. Nowadays, anything and everything can be tracked, quantified and used to better understand consumers and improve processes.8
Small and mid-sized businesses like yours should be using the data they have to their advantage. Take your customer relationship management (CRM) system for instance. Why not use this system to decrease the time it takes to follow up on leads? If you have IoT-enabled equipment, use it to follow your production flow and check for areas of improvement. Being better at the small things is what will set you apart from your competitors and help you compete with larger manufacturers.
3. AI is A-OK
It sounds cool, but what does it actually do? Great question. While you may be thinking human-like robots, AI-enabled devices are devices that can perceive the environment and use the information to achieve a goal.9
Here’s an example of how it works in a real-world scenario: You can’t be in all places at once, so the addition of AI in your manufacturing process could help to identify a problem and perhaps even correct it, before it becomes an expensive fix. For instance, if the temperature of your machines runs too hot or too cold, an AI-enabled machine could detect the anomaly and shut down the equipment before it breaks.10
It can also help you crunch numbers. AI is useful for helping machines understand and use their data, creating algorithms to help perfect processes, quality and more.11
4. Happier customers = healthier profits
Use Industry 4.0 to find ways to enrich your customer experience. For example, quickly address customer inquiries using technology like automated track and trace capabilities that let customers know where in the manufacturing, processing and shipping process their orders are. With more accurate real-time recordkeeping, you’ll also have fewer issues with product availability and will be able to improve the quality of the goods you sell.12
All these things make for happier customers because you’re able to provide them with better products faster, as well as real-time updates on orders that may be in-progress—important factors in providing a good customer experience. These efficiencies will bring a smile to your bottom line since 81% of customers are likely to return if they’ve had a positive experience.13
Yes, Industry 4.0 is trendy, but it’s also the backbone of modern manufacturing, powering important systems like AI and machine learning, Big Data, and the Internet of Things. Not just for large manufacturers, rising consumer demands mean that small and mid-sized manufacturers also need to keep up with the 4.0 tech.
Ensure that the IoT in your business runs seamlessly with Dedicated Fibre Internet from Cogeco. Reliable, cost-effective and stable—it’s Internet designed to support mission-critical operations. Best of all, it guarantees the most powerful symmetrical speeds to power your business.
1,2, 3 (Author unknown) (2017 Feb 23) The 4 industrial revolutions [online article]. Retrieved from https://www.sentryo.net/the-4-industrial-revolutions/
4 (Author unknown) (2018, Feb 26) What will Industry 4.0 mean for your business? [Online article] Retrieved from https://www.tharsus.co.uk/what-will-industry-4-0-mean-for-your-business/
5, ,8, 9, 10, 11 Janda, J. (2018, Jul 17). Why Industry 4.0 Matters for Small & Med-sized Manufacturers [Online article]. Retrieved from https://www.weidert.com/whole_brain_marketing_blog/why-industry-4.0-matters
6,12 Moran. K. (2018, Aug 1) Benefits Of Industry 4.0 [Online article]. Retrieved from https://slcontrols.com/benefits-of-industry-4-0/
7 (Author unknown) (2018, Sep 14) IoT At The Edge: How High-Performance Processing And Internet Productivity Are Changing Businesses Worldwide. [Online article] Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/insights-inteliot/2018/09/14/iot-at-the-edge-how-high-performance-processing-and-internet-productivity-are-changing-businesses-worldwide/#380816127f1d