Thoughts from the C-suite: Industry 4.0 – fact or fiction?
Published by CME Manitoba on March 09, 2017
By Kevin Lusk, CME Advanced Manufacturing & Senior Executive Leadership Champion
There has been much hype regarding Industry 4.0, Factory of the Future, the Internet of Things, etc. As owners, CEOs and executives of SMEs the big questions are What is it all about? Is it for real? How will it impact me and my business?
Perhaps the best starting point in answering these questions begins with this simple fact. All the new technology that you are buying is largely digital based. As you already know, these digital-based technology acquisitions in your plant have already added change to your manufacturing processes.
Industry 4.0 implies that these changes will come faster and the technology itself will become smarter, requiring less human intervention. Consider the reduction in machine center human intervention of today’s machine centers compared with those only 10 years ago. Now an emerging shift is the ability to have key communication from part quality to supply chain re-order taking place from machine to machine and not through you and your team. It’s not Sci-fi. It’s here now. For that reason alone as an owner, a CEO or a senior executive it is advisable that you learn as much as possible about 4.0., lest your business become obsolete over the next decade.
The German Academy of Science and Technology coined the term “fourth industrial revolution” hence 4.0 has become the common term. The academy states that today’s emerging technologies will have a similar effect on our society as water power and steam engines had at the end of the 19th century. But back to our questions, here are 4 specific reasons as to why you should be paying attention:
- A Digital supply chain will not only improve efficiency but also cause a sped up new product and process development since the implementation will able to happen quicker.
- 4.0 can more adequately respond to market shifts with shorter product life cycles, and greater product complexity. As a result companies embracing 4.0 will become more flexible and responsive to business trends.
- As the digitalization of the whole product lifecycle becomes embedded in the corporate culture this will allow companies to use data from production, service, and social media to drive faster product improvement. With these technologies, companies can react faster to demand changes and implement new configurations easier or even re-plan production much faster.
- Economic shift - and with it the risks of globalization - have been a concern for some time. Generating profit and realizing growth also means finding ways to cope with the emerging constraints on energy, resources, environmental and social impacts.
In order to help CME members understand Industry 4.0, CME has made understanding the ramifications of Industry 4.0 a key priority for this year’s Dare to Compete Conference on March 21. Michael Gardiner, Vice President presiding over Siemens Industry 4.0 activities in North America, is a keynote speaker at the conference. CME believes this topic to be so important to the understanding of Manitoba manufacturers that the following morning (March 22), CME and the Industrial Technology Center (ITC) will also be hosting a no cost Industry 4.0 workshop at ITC.
CME has gone to considerable efforts to enable you to engage with Industry 4.0 right in your own backyard. As a manufacturing executive you’d do well to come and hear what Michael has to say. The question is not whether Industry 4.0 will impact your business. The only questions are when and how much is your business is going to be impacted.