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Industry 4.0: what can companies do to keep up?

15/02/2020

Are the companies prepared to brace the impact of Industry 4.0 in the current economy? Let´s see!

Looking at the current industry scenario, we can clearly see how much the three industrial revolutions had an impact on the way it is produced today.

Even more impressive is to know that there is a new big movement on going that will challenge our ability to accept change.

That’s right, I’m talking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0.

In this article you will read:

  • What does industry 4.0 means
  • Statistical data and projection for the future
  • What companies need to do to get there
  • Successful cases
  • How to open up to the new

Are you ready? So, enough talk and let´s go down to the business.

Industry 4.0: what is it?

In order to understand this universe and what the term means, let us recap the advances brought so far.

As you can see in the timeline below, the First Industrial Revolution, which occurred in the 17th century and part of the 18th century, brought us steam engines and made the transition from manual to automated production.

The Second Industrial Revolution, dated 1850, brought mass manufacturing and electricity.

The third turn came with electronics, information technology and telecommunications. Elements that together with developments in the digital world have created the ideal environment for the next great revolution for which we can already experience.

That said, we can say that Industry 4.0 allows for more autonomous and integrated manufacturing. It eliminates centralized control and planning. Thus, the intercommunication of products, supplies and machines is promoted.

The term was first discussed during the Hannover fair in Germany, when local scholars and professionals were discussing the future of their industrial production.

Therefore, the main drivers of this movement for the digitization of machines are technology and the Internet of Things. These two elements will allow people and machines to work together, forming a Cyber Physical space.

Interestingly, this is the First Industrial Revolution that was announced before it even occurred. In comparison with the previous ones, which were only communicated when they had already happened, this is a big difference.

According to the Germans themselves, “godparents of the idea ”, there are 4 basic pillars that support this revolution:

1. Cloud computing (Cloud system)

2. Big Data

3. Mobility

4. Security and Internet of Things (the great driving force)

We would thus have an optimized and customized process from supply to delivery to the customer. It is the famous and desired state of the art in the Industry.

Statistics and forecasts

In an optimistic view, the German government says that:

  • In 2020, there will be an investment in technology of 40 Billion Euros per year;
  • By 2021, more than 80% of German companies will have their value chain completely digitized;
  • Operational efficiency will grow 18 percentage points;
  • There will be a 13% cost reduction;
  • For 2025, growth potential of 425 billion euros is expected;

In general, going beyond German borders, the future of production will bring fabulous benefits such as:

  • Reduced production costs and raw material plastering
  • Greater variety of products available
  • More agile production
  • Intelligent and flexible logistics

And if you think that this only applies to manufacturing, you are very wrong.

During the Davos World Forum, held in January 2016, Klaus Schwab stated that this will be a revolution of the current socioeconomic and demographic models.

Therefore, all sectors of the world economy will be affected, saving the proportions and reality of each country, of course.

In news networks around the world, as well as on the web, we read all the time, articles about the development of robots and technology, today capable of doing incredible things.

Experts are already talking about the complete extinction of some professions in a period of 10 to 15 years.

More operational functions, which require a repetitive effort as a telemarketing operator, postmen, insurance brokers, typists, elevator operators, among others, have their days numbered. This then proves its validity for other niche markets.

According to an article by the World Economic Forum, the consequences of this will affect our geopolitical security and what we consider ethical. Our relationships and way of being will also be impacted.

Looking at all this positive scenario, we are left with a valuable question …

How is the world doing?

Looking at the current reality, the first point to highlight is the high investment necessary to make the digitalization of the machines feasible.

In times of global economic crisis, will we be able to implement digital manufacturing?

Seeing models from developed countries like Germany, for example, and knowing that that technology is very expensive, developing or underdeveloped countries recognize their deficiency.

On the other hand, Schwab says that the Industrial Revolution 4.0 can raise the global income level and improve the quality of life of entire populations. This reinforces that the changes will be more positive than negative.

Like him, other scholars and professionals affirm that Brazil cannot allow only the cost factor to block us in the evolution path towards a new industry.

This is exactly in line with the Kaizen principle of continuous improvement, meaning that we have other ways to get there.

A great example is the information technology itself and its level of automation that we already have in our hands.

Industry 4.0: The future begins now

Another factor that we need to change to get there and that we can start doing right now is to train managers, systems technicians, data analysts and all, and any professional in related fields.

In this context and perhaps more importantly, we need leaders present and engaged in the industry, aligning processes, results indicators and achievable goals.

And this will only be achieved by making the strategies previously concentrated at the top of the organization go down to the factory floor, allowing everyone to work towards the same goal.

The watchword here is execution with discipline and appropriate methods that will consequently lead to the expected results.

According to data collected by ITERIS in a study with 180 companies, 71% of people say that they have difficulty implementing simple systems or a workflow. This ends up neglecting process automation.

Obviously, it’s not just the people who need to switch to digitizing manufacturing. We have an absence of incentive policies on the part of the government.

Here I speak not only of financial investment, but also of knowledge. Factors that together with the leadership and internal training of companies, as mentioned above, also need to go. But that is a subject for another article …

Successful Cases

Now, let’s get to know a little of what our companies are already doing towards advanced production: industry 4.0.

And to do that, instead of writing, I will show you in practice successful cases that prove how all of this is possible.

Hexagon

In this video, the company demonstrates how an automated cell works through Big data and Internet of Things. A true advanced manufacturing workshop.

Audi Hungary

The video below demonstrates FANUC robots in action at the AUDI factory in Hungary. It has one of the largest turnovers and export in the country and because of that become a world reference for industry 4.0.

Siemens

In this last example, an overview of its smart factories that show how products and machines connect to the “Internet of Things” in order to make production cooperative.

Industry 4.0: Innovation

In view of all this innovative environment that surrounds us, in fact we have a long way to go to this state of the art called industry 4.0.

However, we must not forget to be open to change. More than that, I would say open to transformation. And it doesn’t come overnight.

We cannot sit back and wait for favourable situations to happen.

It is necessary to understand that without deploying your strategy, that is, without making everyone within the organizational structure truly involved in a cause, nothing will be possible.

It is as the famous and well-known phrase says: “Nothing changes unless you change”. Or the Chinese proverb that says: “If you don’t change the direction, you will end exactly where you left off ”.

If this article was useful for you, be sure to share it on your social networks so that this concept reaches everyone.