With the next industrial revolution upon us, we examine some of its key trends and what they really mean for manufacturers

Industry 4.0 has been dubbed the next industrial revolution, with many analysts expecting the digitalisation of manufacturing to revolutionise how goods are processed and produced. Global consulting firm PwC surveyed more than 2,000 ‘first movers’ from nine major industrial sectors to see how they approached Industry 4.0. Here are their four key findings:

1. Digitalisation will drive quantum leaps in performance

Performance improvements will be made with smart manufacturing initiatives like integrated planning, scheduling, and predictive maintenance. This is because intelligent machines are available permanently and without interruption. They can identify and report when they need to be serviced or have parts replaced. For service providers, this means unscheduled repairs can be replaced with predictive maintenance, helping companies improve their top and bottom lines. PwC survey respondents said they expect annual revenues to increase by 2.9% in the next five years and reduce costs by 3.6%.

2. Customers will drive change to value chains, production, and services

Customers will be at the heart of Industry 4.0 as products and services are customised to individual needs. This means digitising packaging with codes that track products from farm to table and help consumers connect with brands. Data gathered from these digital encounters can then be used to improve customer relationships and understand how they consume products. Research institutes are also working on integrating IoT technology for packaging, with integrated sensors that record and monitor the condition of contents, including temperature, atmospheric humidity, and pressure, as well as the quality and origin of ingredients.

3. Building smart factories will require significant changes

Creating a smart factory isn’t just about adding software. Companies need to develop new organisational structures that have data analytics as a priority. Half of the companies PwC surveyed had already established dedicated data analytics functions within their organisations. Another 38% relied just on ad-hoc capabilities of single employees while a further 9% had no significant capabilities at all. Organisational changes are one of Industry 4.0’s inevitable challenges due to its potential effects on company culture, leadership, and infrastructure.

4. Industries are ready to invest in digitalisation

Industry 4.0 has gone from a buzzword to a priority in just a few years. On average, PwC survey respondents expected to more than double their level of digitalisation by 2020, and nearly 75% said they expect to have ‘highly digitalised horizontal and vertical value-chain processes’ in place within five years. Investments in Industry 4.0 are significant but they will pay off. More than half of PwC’s respondents said their investments are expected to yield a return within two years or less.

Ready for the next industrial revolution?

Industry 4.0 can offer great improvements for your company, but change comes gradually.

Pilot projects, new service agreements and the implementation of features like track-and-trace are small steps that can lead to significant improvements in efficiency. Start your transition to Industry 4.0 today. Contact us now, or discover more about smart factories here.


Posted by SIGnals

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