- 22 August 2018
Your manufacturing company must continually balance a multi-faceted supply chain. A challenge at any point along the chain can throw off the entire manufacturing production process. Fortunately, Industry 4.0 brings with it the opportunity to improve transparency and predictive analysis across the entire supply chain.
Defined by interoperability, information transparency, technical assistance, and decentralized decision-making, Industry 4.0 is taking hold of industries across the board. A recent PwC survey showed that 18% of manufacturing companies describe their supply chains as “digitally connected to external partners and customers” and are using “integrated platforms for collaboration.”
From the Internet of Things (IoT) to machine learning and Big Data solutions, the technological advancements that embody this revolution can help you keep your competitive edge. Read on to learn three ways Industry 4.0 can help you avoid and resolve challenges in your supply chain.
1. Increased Visibility
Bad weather, a lack of raw materials, equipment malfunction — these unforeseen circumstances provide friction in the supply chain, especially if you aren’t made aware of certain changes or delays until it’s too late to pivot. Industry 4.0 technology allows you to access all the information you need to respond quickly to any schedule changes or obstacles in your supply chain.
You can leverage the IoT to connect your production devices to the Internet and to each other. Estimates vary, but industry experts suggest that by 2020 the market will see somewhere between 20 and 30 billion IoT devices. As one of the hallmarks of Industry 4.0, this digital technology allows you to collect real-time data and monitor your machinery more accurately. With updates and alerts sent straight from your equipment to your ERP system, you’ll know in advance when your machines need maintenance or repair — so you can prepare ahead for routine maintenance, reduce unexpected downtime, and boost productivity across your operations.
Thanks to advanced analytics, IoT devices can help you make data-driven decisions to adjust your processes and navigate equipment downtime, failure, and sudden errors in your supply chain. This “smart machinery” also provides an opportunity for hybrid manufacturing centers that combine digital data with physical content warehouses. Constant updates from devices paired with intelligent human intervention ensure all the data and decision-making qualities you need to keep your supply chain running smoothly.
2. Efficient Processes
When you can’t provide the right product at the right time, your customer service suffers. This challenge becomes even more difficult in today’s climate, where demand is rising and customers want more customizations than ever before. While traditional manufacturing supply chains aren’t agile enough to handle these requests in a timely fashion, there is an Industry 4.0 advancement that can help reduce lead times: machine learning.
Unlike their 20th-century counterparts, which were used solely for tedious and repetitive tasks, modern robots and other trained machines are now more dexterous and collaborative. They have an increased capacity for memory and can quickly perform tasks that would be dangerous or time-consuming for human workers. In short, these robots can make your processes more efficient to meet modern manufacturing expectations.
You can pair your machines with advanced algorithms that collect information, predict behavior, and perform labor. This helps to optimize accuracy and workflow along the supply chain, so your products are well made and delivered on time. In fact, factories where IT systems are combined with machine learning become so efficient that their production capacity increases by 20%.
3. Total Integration
If you can’t easily access all your analytics in one place, you can’t get an accurate overview of your supply chain. A fully integrated supply chain is one of the quickest paths to maintaining competitive advantages because you have the data you need to make key decisions right away. By connecting suppliers, logistics, warehousing, and customers to your operations, you can see the bigger picture. This improves the flexibility of available capital and keeps inventory at appropriate levels.
Modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions integrate and automate all your business processes. With a custom-built system, you can even fine-tune your supply chain processes for more streamlined manufacturing. Because ERP is implemented across your entire business, you get an accurate insight into your supply chain — and so does the rest of your team, no matter where they’re located. This allows for effective collaboration and decentralized decision-making when faced with immediate challenges.
With Big Data looming over every business decision, ERP systems can crunch information exponentially faster than systems born a decade ago. A wealth of accurate, real-time data provides you with deeper insight and boosts your responsiveness to supply chains issues as soon as they arise.
With a wide range of solutions to suit every business need, Cre8tive Technology and Design can implement the perfect solution for your manufacturing processes. Contact us today and speak with our expert team about bringing the benefits of Industry 4.0 to your manufacturing company.