The transition from hand labor to steam-powered machine manufacturing is known as the “industrial revolution.” In 1784, the steam engine was invented, kicking off the First Industrial Revolution.
The introduction of steam engines in 1870 enabled the mass production of machines as well as steam-powered devices and vehicles. The output increased tenfold without adding more staff.
Computers introduced in 1969 ushered in the third industrial revolution. Also known as the “digital revolution”, it used computers to improve product quality. In spite of this, the sector has never ceased evolving. The industry got more and more efficient as new technology became accessible.
Now, the world’s most powerful companies are already adopting new technologies like machine learning (MI) and artificial intelligence (AI), thus opening the doors for Industry 4.0.
What does Industry 4.0 represent?
Taking a closer look at the Industry 4.0 definition, we can see that it combines cyber-physical systems, cloud computing, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. In order to streamline production processes, it is enabling efficient information exchange among various manufacturing company departments.
To put it simply, this new wave of industrialization is ensuring the creation of smart factories. Its focus is the digital transformation of the manufacturing operations like production, information sharing, and other value creation process.
Cyber-physical systems are employed to maintain track of corporate activity. As a result of successfully managing the available resources, embedded software systems and IoT-based technologies enable sharing of information and the development of new manufacturing processes.
As a result, customers, investors, and other stakeholders can easily create value.
Usage of modern technologies in the manufacturing sector
Smart factory solutions give real-time information about every part of the manufacturing process. Users can see how the materials are used in production, how are they supplied through different stages, where do they come from, and the different activities that go on during the production process.
By keeping track of the whole production process, manufacturers can come up with better ways to manage the supply chain and improve its production rate.
However, this implementation of automation processes has rapidly increased during the Covid-19 crisis. Several manufacturers have seen their production activities negatively impacted ever since the pandemic began. In the lockdowns, companies have had to manage their production with a minimum number of workers in their factories.
E-commerce has emerged as one of the most important industries today. In order to meet customer expectations, manufacturing organizations started developing digital supply chains to keep track of the delivery process of the materials and goods.
There has been a tremendous rise in the demand for a variety of goods, particularly food, clothing, and health care supplies. Implementing modern solutions has become critical to the mass production of these goods, as it allows manufacturers to manage the supply of products in various marketplaces in order to adequately fulfill orders from target clients.
Indeed, the smart factory sector has grown dramatically since 2019, following the Covid-19 pandemic. It had a value of $153.7 billion in 2019 and is anticipated to reach $244.8 billion in 2024, according to research.
Why has contemporary technology become so necessary?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is tremendously relevant and increasingly significant in manufacturing for a myriad of reasons. As of now, we are capable to pinpoint several key benefits it will bring to manufacturers around the globe.
- Cost Efficiency
Smart technology can be used to execute repetitive operations without any error. This approach lowers human error and gives the organizations a chance to manage their production with a limited number of workers.
Machine monitoring solutions, predictive maintenance strategies, and other advanced operational technology can cut down on downtime, speed up production, and overall, lower the cost of delivering high-quality parts.
Based on a survey, overall production costs can be reduced by 58% with smart manufacturing solutions.
- Productivity Increase
Different studies are showing that implementing Industry 4.0 may aid in increasing the productivity of industrial businesses. Using IoT and cloud-based technologies to share proper information, a firm may efficiently examine each stage of the supply chain.
To put it another way, you can create more and quicker while deploying resources more cost-effectively and efficiently.
Because of improved machine monitoring and automated/semi-automated decision-making, production lines will be less affected by downtime.
- Improved Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration
People who work in traditional factories use silos all the time. Each facility and piece of equipment inside a facility is thought of as a separate thing. This means that there will be little teamwork or knowledge sharing.
Modern technologies allow manufacturing lines, business processes, and departments to communicate independent of location, time zone, platform, or any other circumstance. If a sensor on a machine in one factory learns something, it can be shared across your organization.
- Better Archive Systems and Traceability
There is almost no limit to how much information can be stored in the cloud with digitized information. What this means is that all the information that is manually collected can be turned into a digital data collection system used for everything – from teaching new workers how to do their jobs to building new algorithms with historical data.
- Higher Revenues
By fully automating a production line with the use of smart factories, a completely new shift with very little staffing costs can be created.
- Greater Customer Experience
By implementing new industrial solutions, industries can improve the services they deliver to clients and increase the customer experience. Automated track and trace capabilities, for example, allow them to swiftly fix issues.
Also, fewer problems with product availability will appear, better product quality can be guaranteed, as well as more options for customers.
- Raising Competitiveness
The right way to manage production rates and the supply chain can help a business meet the needs of customers in different market segments. On the other hand, its application may aid in avoiding the problem of excess production.
Proper production management and excellent distribution methods assist a business in staying relevant in the highly competitive manufacturing industry.
From the preceding arguments, it can be stated that Industry 4.0 may assist in boosting the efficiency and competitiveness of manufacturing enterprises. However, the high cost of installation, maintenance expenses, and training costs are important obstacles to the application of this new chapter in the industry.
Implementing cloud-based and IoT-based operations will be a lot easier for businesses if they can convince their staff of the advantages of digital technologies and how simple these technologies are to use.
And this is just the beginning – this decade will bring many creative solutions that will make all production and manufacturing processes easier and more valuable.
Rick Seidl is a digital marketing specialist with a bachelor’s degree in Digital Media and communications, based in Portland, Oregon. He carries a burning passion for digital marketing, social media, small business development, and establishing its presence in a digital world, and is currently quenching his thirst through writing about digital marketing and business strategies for SEO turnover.
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