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Author's profile photo Xuan-Yen To

Digitalization Delivers for Manufacturers – The Power of Industry 4.0 to Enhance Manufacturing Plants and Processes

Over the past few years manufacturers, have dramatically increased the pace at which they use Industry 4.0 technologies to enhances their operations. They’ve recognized that it’s not a question of “if” they should digitize their production, but “when”. As a result, digital laggards are falling behind digital leaders, and the gap is widening. This was a major finding of a new MPI 2021 Industry 4.0 Study which examines the extent to which manufacturers are leveraging Industry 4.0 across their organizations. It also highlights how manufacturers have applied digital technologies to improve plants, processes, and production performances.

Industry 4.0 is now the foundation for manufacturing

Most manufacturers have a strategy in place and implemented for applying Industry 4.0 technologies to their production processes and equipment by incorporating smart devices and embedded intelligence. They often incorporate application of smart devices and embedded intelligence in assembly, shipping/logistics/transportation, maintenance and document management.

With Industry 4.0 manufacturers are able to receive critical information in real time which help them to use actionable, real-time, role-based data for plant management roles.

And the number of manufacturers who invest in implementing an Industry 4.0 strategy in their plants, processes and supply chains is increasing.

Why? Because by applying smart devices or intelligent devices manufacturers can improve their production-related activities. And not surprisingly, these improvements also lead to better production performance through increased productivity and profitability.

Industry 4.0 Maintenance Challenges

But even if Industry 4.0 advantages predominate, the application of Industry 4.0 to production has not been without some challenges.  Many manufacturers who implemented Industry 4.0 have been facing with some difficulties like the inability of a network infrastructure to handle Industry 4.0 communication from, for example, machine to machine, machines to the enterprise, machines to suppliers, and machines to customers.

Furthermore, the most common challenge manufacturers face are launching and managing Industry 4.0 efforts and identifying the opportunities/benefits.


Industry 4.0 Takeaways

Some manufacturers are already reaping rewards from their investment in Industry 4.0 technologies. But the MPI Industry 4.0 Study finds that many aren’t taking full advantage of digital tools to improve operations.

Given the range of opportunities to improve processes, productivity, profitability, and other performances via Industry 4.0, manufacturers should invest more in their development by:

  1. Identifying the targets for application of Industry 4.0 technologies based on opportunities to improve critical operations measures (e.g., safety, quality, environmental).
  2. Applying smart devices to deliver real-time data to plant managers and executives to improve scheduling, asset management, workforce productivity, etc.
  3. Digitizing processes to facilitate widespread information sharing (with suppliers and customers) and to establish automated, proactive decision-making on the plant floor.

Slowly, but not fast enough, manufacturing leaders recognize how important the investment in Industry 4.0 is and what impact is has in becoming a digital innovator.

To learn more — and to benchmark your organization’s digital progress — download the the  MPI mini summary for Manufacturing here.

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