Author: Javed Ahmad, Senior Vice President, Global Supply Chain-India, Middle East & Africa, Schneider Electric India
In the wake of the fourth industrial revolution, the world is witnessing a huge change in the entire production process, especially, in terms of management and supervision that has been altered to become more integrated, yet flexible.
To stay relevant in these times of cut-throat competitions in the global environment, there is a constant need of continuous evolution in the production systems of manufacturing companies to accommodate the ever-changing demands of markets.
Industry and markets are few of the first things to be impacted by these changes. Having a snowball effect, it eventually rolls down to affect the whole life cycle of the product, allowing it to adopt new means of production, and of conducting a business. The renewed processes have, however, boosted the whole competitiveness of enterprises, which is a good thing.
Industry 4.0 has also provided a new meaning to some of the greatest inventions of the previous decades. The internet boom in the recent years has revolutionised the ways of utilising computers, automations and robots, introducing better opportunities, and giving them a whole new purpose of existence. The incredibly cheaper solutions provided by the fourth industrial revolution has impacted the entire manufacturing industry in such a way that now the whole process of monitoring, gathering and analysing data for real-time decision making has become super sleek.
- Lowering Energy Use
Among the emerging trends of Industry 4.0, one that needs an accelerated processing is minimised energy use. The abrupt growth of industries, owing to back-to-back industrial revolutions across the world has taken a toll on the environment. However, Industry 4.0 will, reportedly, see the trend of minimizing the amount of energy used by factories. An excessive use of energy in the manufacturing processes not only impacts the environment, but also increases the costs of production.
- The Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT technology has become very popular among consumers in a very short time. The charm of this technology lies in its capabilities like dissecting software issues and fixing its own operating systems. The devices that are part of IoT uses wireless signals to transmit information. In the business world, this technology is performing exceptionally well by bringing commendable changes in production and supply chains, materials and processes. In the next few years, this technology is envisaged to experience significant growth throughout the world.
- Increased Efficiency With 5G
Gone are the days of slower systems. The rise of the Industry 4.0 will be powered by an increased use of 5G technology. With an increased number of consumers updating their services for their personal electronic devices, factories are also making similar changes in the way that they operate. A fast internet connection will raise the value of tools, in turn, will increase productivity. A greater bandwidth will be formed as workers will be continuously connected with the tools that are needed to complete job, and machines will be able to take advantage of it as well.
- More Use of Cloud Technology Optimizes Production
Ease and availability of cloud technology will boost productivity to an optimum level. It will make decision making easier, based on the real data it stores. Cloud technology has been around for a long time, however, this year it will be used to optimize production, making it the most sought after trend of the year.
- Transformation in Product Design
AR and VR will transform the way people used to work to design products. The use of augmented reality and virtual reality will allow designers to make changes in the design and features of products, mitigating the need of investing time in prototypes. This will go a long way in saving resources on designing and developing products in the future.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Technology Maintenance
Smart factories will become the heart of this Industry 4.0. Considering the increasing popularity of artificial intelligence (AI) in every sphere of this revolution, a major trend to be looked forward in 2020 has to be a growth in the types of technology that are capable of maintaining themselves. Automation and AI coming together in a smart factory setting will make monitoring of products easier.
Future of Industry 4.0
The fourth industrial revolution has the potential to create a market that is customer-centric, flexible, and efficient enough to cater to the growing demands faster than ever; one that prioritizes customer satisfaction. Product optimization can be considered as another significant advantage of Industry 4.0, which is being materialized by the concept of ‘Smart Factory’. Research in different fields, like IT security will also be hugely influenced by adopting the technologies of Industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0 has the potential of increasing resource efficiency in manufacturing significantly with vast amounts of data getting harvested allowing predictive maintenance and cost efficiency. To keep up with the transformation that is occurring and meet the changing customer demands, companies should upskill their current workforce to take on new work responsibilities made possible by Internet 4.0 and to recruit new employees with the right skills.