Industrie 4.0’s potential to change manufacturing

Industrie 4.0 has great potential for manufacturing, but it is only successful if it provides value and deliver real and tangible benefits to a company's operations.
By John Clemons, Maverick Technologies September 8, 2018

By the end of last century, we thought we had lost manufacturing. It was old, smelly, and looked like a dinosaur just waiting to die. Industrie 4.0 holds the potential to transform manufacturing back into an economic powerhouse.

Unlike earlier technology and concepts, Industrie 4.0 is fundamentally transforming how manufacturing companies compete. These new connected technologies are designed to increase speed, agility, and flexibility throughout a company’s value chain.

With Industrie 4.0 strategies, companies gain capabilities to drive competitive advantage. Factories cut costs, reduce time-to-delivery, and increase order accuracy. With the right leadership, businesses will capture market share, enter new markets, and boost margins.

The Industrie 4.0 Roadmap from MESA International provides manufacturing companies with a guide for their Industrie 4.0 journey and a framework for building detailed plans to achieve their Industrie 4.0 goals, which include:

  • Business strategy
  • Empowered teams
  • Streamlined processes
  • Connective technologies
  • Connected things through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

There’s many different reasons why an Industrie 4.0 project can fail. It can go overbudget, get behind on schedule, not be accepted by the end users, be too complicated, or not work as advertised.

There’s only one way an Industrie 4.0 project can be successful: it has to add real value to the manufacturing company. The value may be found in increased capabilities such as increased consistency, increased productivity, increased flexibility, or increased agility. The value may be found in reduction such as reduced labor costs, material costs, energy costs, or lower levels of rework and waste.

For an Industrie 4.0 project to be successful, it has to be about more than just the technology. It can’t be just a technology project. It has to be about delivering real benefits to the company. Even if an Industrie 4.0 project comes in under budget, ahead of schedule, and has the newest and coolest technology on the market, it is a failure if it doesn’t deliver real value to the company. It needs to be:

  • Providing significant new capabilities and processes
  • Reducing capital costs and reducing operating costs
  • Empowering teams and improving decision-making
  • Creating new and better ways of doing business
  • Measuring metrics both tangible and intangible for payback.

Industrie 4.0 is fundamentally transforming how manufacturing companies compete, using new connected technologies to increase speed, agility, and flexibility throughout a company’s value chain. With Industrie 4.0, companies gain powerful capabilities to drive competitive advantage.

John Clemons is the director of Manufacturing IT for Maverick Technologies. He is on the MESA Americas Board of Directors and is Chair of the MESA Marketing Committee. This article originally appeared on MESA International’s blog. MESA International is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.

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