Articles about modern manufacturing are invariably going to focus on “Industry 4.0,” the fourth wave of manufacturing innovation which will revolutionize manufacturing in the 21st Century. Industry 4.0 focuses on the convergence of physical and data processes, a union of Internet Technology and Operating Technology, along with ever-increasing use of automation, smart systems, and AI to improve manufacturing processes.
There’s really just one big problem: Industry 4.0 will be expensive. The costs could easily be compared to the upgrade to automated robotics in the 1970s-80s (which was “Industry 3.0”) or even greater. That can make it a hard sell, particularly to investors who are leery of jumping on tech bandwagons.
Nevertheless, there is plenty of reason to believe Industry 4.0 technology can bring real value to the company, and to investors. In fact, one of its most enticing elements of Industry 4.0 is how many new opportunities for monetization that it creates!
Probably the biggest single shift in Industry 4.0 comes from a new emphasis on collecting, collating, and leveraging data. All those smart automated systems and sensors are creating massive amounts of data on the product, and can be combined with data from the office such as customer records and usage statistics. This can have a profound impact on the manufacturing process, including:
- Faster concept-to-product turnovers
- Development better-targeted at consumer needs
- Faster upgrade cycles for incremental product improvement
- Monitoring supply lines and material availability, with failover/fallback options in place
- All-around greater efficiency in the production line
In some cases, it’s even becoming increasingly possible to create fully digital prototypes, operating in a simulated environment, without the need for nearly so many expensive physical prototypes.
Collaborations Between Manufacturers, Vendors, and Users
Many manufacturers have traditionally been at a great distance from other elements in their sales ecosystem. Sales partners were often largely left to act on their own, and the manufacturer would have little to no direct contact with the buyers/end-users. However, this approach is simply not suited to the 21st Century, as buyers increasingly demand products that fit their specific needs.
Industry 4.0 is a revolution in manufacturing, but also in communications. The emphasis on data, and data pipelines, also has the effect of making your entire ecosystem tighter. Lines of communication are maintained, and you get great insights into the needs and usage of your buyers. This reduces inefficiency within the ecosystem, while improving both sales and customer satisfaction.
Customer Experience & Customer Retention
Industry 4.0 upgrades can even help affect post-sale support, adding value and improving long-term customer retention. At the most basic, support issues can be resolved more easily. You’ll also have plenty of feedback on any design flaws or issues which should be addressed in a product revision.
On the manpower side, Industry 4.0 can potentially reduce your reliance on expensive contracted service technicians. By making more data available to trade schools via shared cloud information services, and leveraging Uber-style “on demand” freelancers, you can lower your support costs considerably without affecting customer experience.
LogicBay Helps Manufacturers Embrace Industry 4.0 Benefits
We’re on the forefront of smart communications and data systems for extended sales ecosystems, and we’ve got exciting plans for helping our clients make the most of the Industry 4.0 revolution. Contact us directly to discuss where our services can take your operation!