Industry 4.0 and the Importance of Technology, Executive Support, and Skills Alignment

Often when discussions take place around Industry 4.0, they revolve around technologies. In other words, how technologies like cloud computing, robotics, AI, digital simulations, autonomous vehicles, data analytics, etc are creating opportunities for manufacturers to move into the Industry 4.0 era.

Industry 4.0 is about much more than technologies, however. Instead, it is about digitally transforming your business and developing deeper integrations and more efficient workflows between all components in your organisation. This includes manufacturing, supply chain, product development, marketing, sales, customer support, HR, and finance.

Therefore, to maximise the benefits of Industry 4.0 and remain competitive in the digitally transformed world of tomorrow, you need to develop an alignment of technology, executive support, and workforce skills.

Transforming Your Entire Business

Industry 4.0 is a journey, but the endpoint is likely to be a very transformed business model. Examples of how this might look include batch size of one manufacturing capabilities or mass customisation.

This demonstrates that Industry 4.0 doesn’t just impact the factory floor and closely connected business functions, such as the supply chain. Instead, opportunities and transformation potential exist across the entire business.

Executive Support

As a result of the above, Industry 4.0 requires executive-level buy-in at an early stage.

This doesn’t just mean buy-in for the next project you plan to complete as part of your Industry 4.0 journey, but buy-in for the overall concept and potential of Industry 4.0.

Here is an example of why this is important: Industry 4.0 processes, technologies, and solutions that can be implemented today can give you substantially greater insight into your customers and a better understanding of emerging market trends. This is achieved by integrating the marketing and sales functions of the business with the manufacturing and product development functions.

Solutions like this give senior executives access to data that enables them to pivot and adapt the company as required to meet customer demand and expectations.

However, the technology that makes it possible for executives to access and analyse this information is only an enabler. Executives still need to make decisions in the best interests of the company.

This requires a collaborative approach across all parts of the organisation as well as fast decision-making processes to ensure opportunities can be seized upon quickly.

For this to happen, you need executive-level buy-in.

Furthermore, with executive-level buy-in, it will be much easier to get buy-in across the wider organisation. This is another important element of successful Industry 4.0 implementation, particularly as the solutions you implement become more advanced.

Upskilling Your Team

The fact that technology is an enabler of Industry 4.0 applies right through your workforce in addition to at the executive level.

Also, almost all Industry 4.0 technology solutions have a human element. This includes operators and engineers as well as data analysts, product designers, and other roles across the company, i.e. not just in production.

Therefore, upskilling your team is a crucial part of Industry 4.0 success.

With the introduction of Industry 4.0 solutions, advanced capabilities will be available to your organisation in a range of areas. Your team needs the necessary skills to ensure you can capitalise on them.

People and Processes

The benefits of Industry 4.0, and the opportunities it offers your business, are substantial. In fact, there are likely to be opportunities and benefits that we can’t yet quantify or fully understand.

However, looking at Industry 4.0 as a technology issue, or even a manufacturing issue, will limit your potential.

The reality is that Industry 4.0 is about people and processes as much as it is about technology. Having all the right elements aligned will ensure you maximise success.

Darragh McMorrow

Darragh McMorrow, SL Controls’ Commercial Director, has 15 years of engineering services and contract solutions experience acquiring an in-depth knowledge of manufacturing systems integration services. He has direct responsibility for developing long-term partnerships with companies in the medical devices, pharmaceutical, and FMCG sectors as well as for implementing commercial strategies to continue growing the business nationally and internationally.

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