Ever since the German Ministry of Education and Research coined the term ‘Industry 4.0’ (Industrie 4.0) back in 2011, it has dominated the conversation. Today, almost every industry leader is well aware of technology’s importance to the survival and success of manufacturing. And yet, turning vision into practice remains extremely challenging.
In our latest report, we asked approximately 40 Belgian manufacturers to assess their progress in adopting Industry 4.0 technologies, and the challenges that remain. The main conclusion? There’s still a lot of ground to be covered, with room for improvement on various levels.
55% of industry leaders strongly believe that Industry 4.0 will improve competitiveness, but only 4 in 10 currently have an Industry 4.0 strategy. There is room for improvement in multiple domains: operations, customer touchpoints, data insights and organization and culture.
The domain where Industry 4.0 has the most obvious impact is, of course, operations, as new technologies provide numerous opportunities for optimization. Still, many companies don’t have the level of connectivity and integration that is needed to take full advantage. Sensors, for example, have found their way into many factories, but there is often no systemic inclusion or proper integration. And while vertical integration of data capture across a manufacturing system has vastly improved, real-time visibility is still lacking.
So, while the organization of product data from a single source (the ERP in most cases) is good in most organizations, continued investments in robotization, sensor implementation and the integration of operational data with IT systems is required. This will enable predictive maintenance and quality and a truly adaptive manufacturing execution system (MES), which in turn will have a huge impact on operational excellence and thus productivity.
Industry 4.0 creates new opportunities in other domains as well. Providing your sales force with digital tools and giving customers access to relevant data, for example, can accelerate (product) innovation and improve customer experience. And while a lot remains to be done, the manufacturers in our report remain highly optimistic about the future. They acknowledge the central roles that data management and analytics play in driving productivity improvements, innovation and overall competitiveness. Consequently, most indicate that they plan to make great strides in improving their IT and data architecture maturity – a crucial first step.
Making progress toward Industry 4.0 requires different company divisions to work together and connect data sources and technologies. But faced with limited resources, it’s just not possible to do it all. In our report, delaware expert Geert Scheipers provides a practical model to determine which technologies are worth considering, based on their maturity and the impact on your business model.
Curious about our exact findings? Read the full report and explore our smart adoption model designed to help you plot your way forward in Industry 4.0.