4) Embrace the augmented age
Ok, so what’s the augmented age? Until recently we used our tools to assist us, even robots or automation tools. Now we are entering an age where we collaborate with our tools, making joint, or augmented, decisions. The human machine partnership is changing rapidly and Industry 4.0 will utilize this to make factories smarter. Embrace it! Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR), are finding their way onto the factory floor for all kinds of solutions including maintenance or process diagnosis. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is life changing, and at times somewhat scary. AI is opening the door to self-learning systems or cyber physical systems, that will drive better processes and products, an important element of Industry 4.0.
5) Get connected along the supply chain
Share data along the whole supply chain. Connect your design team and vendors on the supply side, your customers and even the consumer on the demand side. The digital thread starts at the idea or order and carries though the whole life of the product. This delivers all kinds of benefits, such as consumer engagement and full traceability. Engagement can be enhanced by sharing data with consumers, making them not just a user but part of a community and even brand ambassadors. In medical, aerospace and almost every other industry, full traceability is now demanded. Never underestimate the financial cost and brand damage of a product recall. Full traceability reduces the number of products recalled and sometimes the need to recall at all. Industry 4.0 delivers traceability as a byproduct.
6) Great products and solutions come from Industry 4.0
Smarter Factories produce smarter products that benefit consumers! After all, without consumer buy in, the whole process is technology for technology’s sake and that sucks. Mass customization, or personalization at scale is the current holy grail. The ability to take online custom product orders, and use technologies like 3D printing to fulfil them quickly and economically is exciting to brands and fits with the consumer’s desire for instant gratification. At the core of Industry 4.0 is the ideal of ‘lot size of one’; the concept that an assembly is unique and able to inform machines and processes of what it needs as it passes through each stage of manufacturing. This is real in the automotive sector with thousands of versions of a car available. Expect to see it in consumer goods more and more.
These are just my top six things to know on Industry 4.0, but don’t forget the robots are coming, that next month there will be new ideas and that new players of all shapes and sizes are joining the market. The industrial revolution is happening and it will change the face of manufacturing forever.
Ignore it and risk of being ignored!