Today’s industrial revolution, known widely as Industry 4.0 can be described as the transition towards a more self-aware and digitised method of work. This is an essential and disruptive trend within the engineering industry, utilising the IoT, big data and the new communication infrastructure. Industry 4.0 is one of the top five industrial technology trends in 2022 and could have an estimated value-creation potential for manufacturers and suppliers of $3.7 trillion in 2025.
Despite being a major buzzword over the past decades, Industry 4.0 is still in the early stages of implementation in European companies. TeamViewer conducted a survey of 1,452 corporate decision-makers in ten European countries and according to it, only 23% of European companies have started with the digital transformation of their production. Furthermore, more than half of the companies have not even begun to develop an Industry 4.0 strategy or roadmap.
According to another research conducted by McKinsey, the main difficulties of implementing Industry 4.0 are limited resources, high cost of scaling, a lack of clarity about business value, and an overwhelming number of potential use cases. All these reasons leave the majority of companies stuck in “pilot purgatory”.
Nevertheless, Industry 4.0 provides technology innovations that enable companies to make intelligent, real-time, data-driven decisions. It was particularly important during the Covid-19 pandemic and is still relevant as material shortages and supply chain disruptions continue worldwide.
Yet Industry 4.0 is already showing incredible promise where it is used. For example, in the Vodafone Automotive plant in Varese, Italy, which makes automotive components (telematic devices, sensors and alarm systems). They began adopting Industry 4.0 solutions in 2015, using collaborative robots, automotive storage, and integration systems. The smart machines enabled tweaks to production planning based on real demand and flagged up all potential maintenance problems in the early stage. As a result, operating costs were cut drastically, and it helped the plant to compete with low-cost countries. Moreover, production capacity rose by four million products using the same manufacturing space, or three times more output. Productivity was up by 4% year-on-year and efficiency by over 10%, while energy use and waste fell.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution forces companies to embrace a paradigm shift. They need to transform not only their business models, but also how they operate, work with their supply ecosystem, and interact with end consumers.
The ability to customise and leverage data to better serve customer needs, improve customer experience and increase engagement, are key success factors for manufacturing companies. Failure to transform and reinvent will result in lost opportunities and diminish their competitiveness in the future.