Many businesses have undergone a digital transformation which helped them to significantly facilitate and automate many production processes as well as improve customer services. However, digitization isn’t the final step companies can take to enhance their business workflows.
Currently, companies are embedding the latest technologies in their digital infrastructures which help them improve data transparency, enhance digital security, optimize workflows, and more. The transformation process has already become known as the fourth industrial revolution.
In this article, we explain what the benefits of industrial revolution 4.0 are and how companies could implement Industry 4.0 digital solutions to keep the competitive edge in the market.
What Is Industry 4.0?
Since the first industrial revolution, when Thomas Savery introduced his steam engine for commercial purposes in the 18th century in Britain, industries have undergone 3 more. All these changes were aimed at improving the way companies manufacture and distribute their products.
Today, it’s hard to imagine a manufacturing process without the use of computers. The massive digitization of factories and plants started in the middle of the 20th century and continues today. It allows companies to greatly automate their processes as well as extract and collect more manufacturing-related data. Nevertheless, industry development hasn’t stopped with computer implementation. Many experts claim that we’ve entered the fourth industrial revolution.
The fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0 is the industry improvement process when companies, factories, and plants enhance their workflows with the help of smart machines and technologies. They allow businesses to efficiently manage data and manufacture products more sustainably across their value chains.
The technologies and smart machines that constitute the motive force of the fourth industrial revolution are Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud computing, Big Data and advanced analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced security empowered by Blockchain and other security-related technologies, and many others.
Benefits of Industrial Revolution 4.0
Digital transformation has had a great impact on the industrial sector. It allowed businesses to automate many of their workflows and gather much data about the production processes. Yet, the data analysis and exchange between departments as well as business partners and customers remained at a rather low level.
Industry 4.0 technologies effectively address the mentioned issues. They connect each manufacturing process to the network, improving data exchange and workflow monitoring, allowing remote task management, and optimizing processes in real time.
Here are the main benefits companies get when implementing Industry 4.0 solutions:
- Production flexibility – by monitoring the materials available for manufacturing and customer demands, companies can effectively manage their production processes. This helps businesses to avoid excessive spending when procuring resources for their products as well as focus only on the manufacturing of those goods that are really reclaimed by buyers.
- Optimized logistics and transparent supply chain – using 4.0 industry technologies, companies can make their supply and procurement chains more transparent for their inner departments and all the chain partners involved in the process. This way, companies can significantly reduce their costs when buying and transporting the needed materials as well as selling and delivering the ready products.
- Smart supply of resources – many enterprise-level platforms such as ERPs (Enterprise Resources Planning Systems), PLMs (Product Lifecycle Management), SCM (Supply Chain Management), WMS (Warehouse Management Systems), and others can automate the resource supply processes. The various devices embedded into the company’s workflow can monitor materials in stock and automatically place orders, picking the most reliable providers with the best pricing.
- Enhanced customer experience – Industry 4.0 technologies make marketing more customer-centric. Various tools and gadgets gather customer-related data and adjust companies’ marketing content and offerings to customer demands and needs. This way, customers can simply find and order the products they want that will be customized specially for them.
- Efficient use of data – in the last decade the amount of data produced by people and machines has grown massively. Much of this data has never been processed and analyzed before the emergence of Big Data technology and advanced analytics. Those companies that enhance their digital ecosystems with these technologies gain deeper insights on how to improve their workflows and customer relationships and, therefore, easier gain a competitive advantage in the market.
Industry 4.0 Case Studies
There are many examples of technologies that drive Industry 4.0. Many businesses and organizations are already successfully implementing them in their working processes today. Here are the key Industry 4.0 technologies that facilitate manufacturing and business operations in companies today.
Big Data & Analytics
Wide dissemination of IoT technologies across industries and private households has led to a significant increase in raw data produced by various IoT gadgets and embedded sensors. The application of Big Data and deep analytics tools to the gathered data allows businesses and manufacturers to better study historical trends, and identify human behavior and technology working patterns. As a result, companies can make informed decisions on further business development and product manufacturing.
For example, companies can analyze the data on sales and how they correlate with manufacturing and optimize their production flows and warehousing. A full digital representation of working processes can alert businesses on future possible breakdowns in manufacturing lines or give more information on how to improve separate procedures.
Artificial intelligence entirely transforms the way companies gather information and make decisions. AI algorithms process large amounts of data and make predictions on consumer behavior, societal changes, or workflows in a standalone factory. The algorithms serve as a basis for many Industry 4.0 technologies, including deep analytics, Big Data processing, enterprise software, and more.
Apart from forecasting abilities, AI technology can also mimic human learning patterns. This helps the technology to automatically learn and train on data sets, making fewer and fewer mistakes each time it works with familiar patterns. Empowered with AI technologies, machinery produces high-quality goods in less time and uses fewer materials while ensuring higher efficiency and more uptime.
Cloud computing is another key technology the fourth industrial revolution wouldn’t be possible without. The technology makes the core for systems’ connectivity and integration as well as data processing. Cloud creates an entirely digital environment where businesses can interconnect various processes from engineering to supply chain management, to production, to sales and distribution into one coherent system.
Moreover, cloud systems can significantly reduce costs for SME manufacturers as t