While the move towards smart manufacturing technologies and workflows has been growing steadily in the last decade, it has always suffered from the same problem that accompanies all technological paradigm shifts: a lack of clear roadmaps and guides to implementation. The issue is particularly vexing when it comes to Industry 4.0, because most implementations will be highly customized to each individual business's needs. Standardized guides, or even clear-cut case studies with practical implementation and utilization advice, could be hard to come by.
Fortunately, there's now a movement towards making the transition a bit easier on everyone. As RTInsights reports, a group called the Digital Shopfloor Alliance (DSA) has been formed specifically to help encourage and guide companies looking towards Industry 4.0 and the future. The Alliance has been growing steadily in numbers and influence since 2018, and now stands as an excellent resource for companies looking for reliable sources for automation processes, ideas and tech.
Improve digital processes in three key ways:
1. Faster and easier implementation
For a great many businesses, the struggle is in moving from the concept of smart manufacturing to actually turning it into a practical reality. Studies have indicated that at least half of such initiatives have fizzled out, only getting as far as small-scale proof-of-concept tests or isolated implementations. The DSA is looking to change this by offering standardized guides, strategies, and other aid that will make the task less daunting. In particular, this approach should help reduce the amount of expert assistance needed to plan and implement I4.0 - which is particularly good since the lack of such experts is starting to become a bottleneck on its own.
2. Demonstrating and improving ROI
Digital implementations can be expensive, and businesses need to see hard data demonstrating their financial effectiveness. With the Industry 4.0 market still relatively young, this is another area in need of standardization. They offer methods and tools for calculating ROI, as well as maximizing it over the years - including advice on implementing solutions which are scalable and future-proofed, as much as is possible.
3. Encouraging hardware and software standards
Possibly the biggest problem with the supply side of the I4.0 market at the moment is that so many solutions being offered are custom and bespoke. Businesses are being asked to tie themselves to a single vendor within a fast-changing market. This is not a good situation, if the vendor goes under, their partner businesses could lose all support for their Industry 4.0 implementation. A push towards standardization coming from major players within the industry will help prevent this, creating hardware which is broadly intercompatible in the same way that most PC hardware is intercompatible. In the long run, this aspect of their mission will probably be most important in making Industry 4.0 accessible to the widest possible variety of businesses.
Industry 4.0 Is The Future - How Close Are You To Embracing It?
There's little doubt that automation and AI are the future of industry, and groups like the Digital Shopfloor Alliance are doing good work in helping that future come more quickly, for more businesses. We feel the same. We offer tools, platforms, and consulting solutions aimed at connecting and unifying business ecosystems of all sizes and configurations, with an emphasis on eLearning and digital collaboration tools.
Our free-to-use collaboration platform FUSE (click to become a free member) can quickly tie your business and partners together with effective and intuitive communication tools. You can also reach out to us directly to discuss your business challenges and explore our suite of technology solutions.