How to Get Started with Industry 4.0

September 20, 2018

Posted by James Wood

Industry 4.0, MES, AI, Automation

 

Preparing your business for the fourth industrial revolution can seem like a daunting task. But Industry 4.0 shouldn’t be seen as a destination, but as a journey toward incorporating the latest technology into manufacturing. Taking that first step, such as implementing a manufacturing execution system (MES), makes it easier to wade into the world of A.I. and automation.

When starting your Industry 4.0 journey, keep the following three points in mind.

Manufacturing Needs to Be More Open to New Technology

There’s so much to be gained by engaging with the technologies enabling Industry 4.0. As well as driving efficiency on the factory floor, integrated and automated data processes dramatically improve regulatory compliance. For food & beverage businesses, this is a huge opportunity to increase customer trust.

You also have to avoid overwhelming those on the factory floor. The idea is to blend people and systems, creating a smarter workforce that achieves more. One of the challenges involved in this is making sure teams have the skills needed to work alongside the machines. Training is often overlooked, making the Industry 4.0 journey more difficult than it needs to be.

Take That First Step with an MES

An MES provides you with all the data you need to continue your journey towards Industry 4.0. It does this in real time, giving you complete visibility of your business and its processes, as well as the insight you need to identify areas for improvement. With that in place, it almost doesn’t matter what you think your next step is; the data will tell you. You’ll have a clear path ahead of you, one that sees you constantly improving processes as you work towards your end goal.

Implementing an MES can also kick-start the digital transformation of your business, which – coupled with the right implementation approach – will start to win over your teams on the factory floor. Engaging the operators, giving them a voice, and empowering them with information that makes action unavoidable clearly demonstrates that people and technology are a winning combination that can dramatically improve performance.

The First Step Is the Hardest – The Rest Is Simple

While Industry 4.0 might seem unsettling to manufacturers, it doesn’t have to be. Even if your factory floor is behind the times in terms of technology, there’s nothing to stop you catching up – and quickly – if you approach the challenge with the right mindset.

By viewing Industry 4.0 as a journey, rather than a destination, you will discover a variety of ways to improve your business. You’ll also free yourself up to focus on driving performance on your factory floor without the fear of failing to meet unrealistic expectations.

Now’s the time to start on the path towards Industry 4.0 success. There might be plenty of work to do before you reach your goal, but you’ll never get there if you put off making the required changes.

For more on how to get ready for Industry 4.0, read James Wood’s article in Global Manufacturing.