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The fourth industrial revolution is here. Are you prepared? Industry 4.0 brings both challenges and opportunities as it offers a new way to organize and control the entire value chain, enabling you to customize based on customer requirements. Manufacturing is now more than ever dependent upon digital transformation to remain competitive and agile. But many in the industry don’t have a clear path for implementing and planning for Industry 4.0.

What Does Industry 4.0 Mean for Manufacturers?

Two words describe what Industry 4.0 means to manufacturers: integration and collaboration. Technology has enabled manufacturing to become truly connected, leveraging robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), software as a service (SaaS), and AI and machine learning. What Industry 4.0 can offer is a way to integrate all these innovations, providing opportunities for growth and easy scalability.

The transformation available to manufacturers can be complex. There are many considerations that all lead to change. Change is hard, and what you’ll need is a practical and actionable road map.

Planning and Implementing Industry 4.0: Key Steps

These critical steps will help you build a path to Industry 4.0.

Where Are You?

You have to start with the state of your current operations. While it would be nice to leapfrog to Industry 4.0, you need to ensure you’ve effectively adopted Industry 3.0, which includes investment in automation, computers, and electronics. It’s essential to have information technology and operational technology working together, instead of in silos.

This foundation must be in place before you can move to the next revolution. The key difference between Industry 3.0 and 4.0 is data. Industry 3.0 has been generating data, but it hasn’t been used to streamline processes. Now there’s the chance to do so.

Develop Your Strategy

Now that you know where you are, you can work on how to get to the implementation of Industry 4.0 strategy. One critical aspect of the strategy has to be connectivity. You must have digital connectivity between machines and computers so that the data can be collected and analyzed. Without aggregation and analysis, data doesn’t mean much.

In creating your strategy, you must have a plan for collecting and analyzing data. The process should also be automated, eliminating manual activities. Data is a vital factor in moving to smart manufacturing. You need to know why identical machines perform differently so you can proactively maintain or alter assets.

Your strategy will also need to address the potential roadblocks ahead, such as disjointed data collection or the lack of a central hub for your big data.

Ensure Your Ecosystem Is Ready

What’s the biggest obstacle in most transformations? Communication. Industry 4.0 is no different. The physical and digital parts of your organization must communicate. Without this, it’s just a cycle of disconnection. If your environment isn’t ready, the drive for change will be rejected.

Test Out Your Approach

Once your strategy is ready, it’s time to execute. Think small at first to test your approach. Your plant has numerous machines and workflows. Narrow in on a specific challenge such as integrating legacy systems or establishing a unified data model.

Both issues can cause havoc to your plan to implement Industry 4.0. You can’t just throw out everything existing and start new. Your current environment must evolve, so starting with one critical component sets you up for future success.

Concentrate on Process Improvements

The end goal for implementing Industry 4.0 is to improve every process, making it as efficient as possible and ensuring that you are optimizing resources. Look at the entire process from beginning to end. Identify where opportunities for improvement exist that can be supported by communication, connectivity, and data.

A process doesn’t just include machines. It’s also about personnel. To have any marked progress, you will need to invest in training for your team as well as software and hardware.

Industry 4.0: Priority One

Planning for and implementing Industry 4.0 won’t be easy. It’s also not a linear path. You’ll need help and support along the way. With solutions like Optessa’s intelligent manufacturing scheduling software, you can accelerate your path. Get in touch today for a quick demo.

About the Author: 

Founded in 2001 and in live environments since 2003, Optessa’s mission is to be the best at solving complex APS problems for manufacturers. Through the utilization of modern optimization techniques and the patented solver, Optessa is able to deliver near-optimal results for clients. With the industry’s most robust constraints library available out of the box, our clients are able to model any production scenario and generate feasible solutions in a short amount of time.

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