The cable industry is now adopting the principles of Industry 4.0, also known as the “smart factory.” You may think of it as a revolution or an evolution of automated systems of the past. However, you cannot ignore the fact that it is an opportunity. Smart assets are here, and they are becoming smarter. Smart is not just about doing things better but doing things differently. If you continue to do the same things in the same way, you will inevitably get the same results.
Ali Shehab, former CEO of Cimteq by UL Solutions, said, “There may still be misunderstanding around Industry 4.0, the smart factory, and the Internet of Things (IoT). When people think of Industry 4.0, they think of technology, but when they hear smart, they think of intelligence. The two concepts go hand in hand. Smart is applying an intelligent solution to solve a problem, and Industry 4.0 is the collection of technologies to enable this function”.
Another error people make is likening the Internet of Things to Industry 4.0. IoT is only one of the evolved technologies we collectively call Industry 4.0.
“Using smart assets in your factory does not make the factory a smart factory; in the same way, a person using a smartphone does not make the person smart. A smart factory must exhibit the characteristics of communication, adaptability, continuous improvement and collaboration”.
The most distinguishing factors of Industry 4.0 technologies are automation and communication. These technologies allow the manufacturer to reduce cost, increase speed and add value.
These technologies also allow decision-makers at any level to make quality decisions to help move the business forward.
But on a practical level, how do you progress the theory of Industry 4.0 into the reality of developing a factory into a smart factory? A report by McKinsey Digital offers five pragmatic recommendations for capturing value from Industry 4.0:
- Focus your efforts on a limited number of applications.
- Don’t be afraid of workarounds today, but start laying the IT foundations for a more robust solution tomorrow.
- Build a portfolio of third-party technology providers.
- Build a strong internal team with an agile mindset.
- Experiment with the new business models.
Industry 4.0 is not the future; it is here and yielding benefits to those that adopt its concept.
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