- 4 April 2018
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Manufacturing in today’s major industries means being able to balance increased demands and customization requests without slowing down production.
Not only does demand continue to rise, but customers are more frequently seeking specific items that need to be made in smaller batches rather than produced in mass. Current manufacturing models weren’t built with these demands in mind, which can result in long lead times or delays in production for such orders.
Fortunately, Industry 4.0 is beginning to catch up to the changing market. Read on to understand more about this movement and to see how the technological advancements of Industry 4.0 can be used to reduce lead times at your organization.
Enter Industry 4.0 — Or Get Left Behind
Most 20th-century companies built themselves on mass production — a low-customization model that isn’t flexible enough for modern-day manufacturing. As customization and high-end orders skyrocket, this older model has put a strain on lead time, efficiency, and profits.
With a focus on interoperability, information transparency, technical assistance, and decentralized decision-making, the benefits of the Industry 4.0 revolution are sweeping through production floors. Leading-edge businesses can utilize predictive data with the Internet of Things (IoT), switch between production models swiftly with additive manufacturing, and optimize the allocation of staffing and resources with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
By implementing the digital advancements that embody Industry 4.0, your manufacturing business can speed up and successfully adapt to new demands in whichever industry you operate. Here are just a few of the most influential technological advancements that Industry 4.0 has delivered so far:
Internet of Things (IoT)
According to a recent report, 86% of industrial organizations are already implementing IoT strategies. Most frequently, these manufacturers are using IoT to connect their production devices to the Internet (and each other), collect real-time data, and monitor their machines. Of those companies, 84% describe these solutions as being extremely effective.
That’s not surprising when you see the results: employing predictive maintenance with real-time analytics has been reported to reduce overall maintenance costs by as much as 10%, while also increasing productivity and cutting the time required to plan maintenance in half.
IoT collects and then uses advanced analytics, enabling your business to make predictive, data-driven decisions in order to stay ahead of equipment downtime, maintenance, and supply chain changes. Thanks to real-time data collected by your IoT devices, you’ll know ahead of time when equipment may be in need of maintenance or repair, so you can keep your machines active in production for longer. You’ll also know if there are sudden changes, delays, or errors across your supply chain; and you can adjust your production accordingly to minimize bottlenecks in your own processes.
Additive Manufacturing (AM)
One of the biggest advancements in manufacturing is the development of additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing. This technology has already had an impact in the medical and automotive industries and is now being used to increase efficiency for furniture manufacturers, as well.
Additive manufacturing allows you to create objects directly from scripts or pre-programmed files, which drastically cuts down on the time you need to manufacture custom parts or orders. Not only that, but you have the flexibility to move from one production design to another, so special engineer-to-order projects and one-offs can be seamlessly inserted into your production lines.
Switching back and forth between types of production models doesn’t only ensure faster production times and cost savings — you’ll also improve customer satisfaction as a result of your efficient and customized product which meets modern demands.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Solutions
No matter whether you’re a large or small business, ERP solutions can simplify your business processes and reduce your lead times as a result. In fact, some companies using ERP solutions report lead times shrinking from 8-12 weeks to just 6 weeks.
ERP integrates all your processes so everything is in one place. What’s more, your solution can be custom built to help streamline your quoting, ordering, production, purchasing, engineering, maintenance, and more. Legacy systems don’t offer this luxury; using outdated systems to figure out how much it costs to build certain products requires a lot of time, money, and resources. You can quickly and easily generate that specific information with a modern ERP system.
With customer data, order specifications, and all other records stored in one digital system, it’s easier for your company to communicate with customers in a timely fashion and with accurate information about their projects — two aspects that are essential to customer satisfaction, especially in the case of customized orders.
Because ERP is integrated across your entire company and provides visibility, you can get an accurate insight into your inventory, materials, and supply chain. This puts your manufacturing business in a better position to either produce what you need right away or to quickly acquire what’s needed to fill orders.
Stay Ahead of the Curve with Industry 4.0 Technologies
Regardless of your manufacturing specialty or sector, embracing the advancing technologies of Industry 4.0 will help keep your plant nimble and agile in the face of changing consumer demands and a competitive market.
Are you ready to embrace Industry 4.0 with a modern ERP solution? Cre8tive Technology and Design offers a variety of ERP solutions for different business needs, and we’ll customize your specific solution to perfectly fit for your manufacturing company’s processes. Contact us today and speak with an expert about this cutting-edge solution that can cut your lead team into the era of Industry 4.0 and boost your business’ success.