With Industry 4.0 sitting front and centre of so many of today’s digital strategies, it’s easy to forget how difficult the road to digital success can be. Now entering its 7th year; Industry 4.0 brings together the advancement of fast internet connections and the unprecedented growth of smart devices and their applications. The digital transformation that runs at its core will help many successful companies grow into digital enterprises – combining physical products with data-driven services.
PwC’s 2016 Global Industry 4.0 Survey, the largest known survey of its kind, helps to highlight the importance of digital transformation in tomorrow’s industrial ecosystems. Of those surveyed from the EMEA region:
- 39% expect revenue gains over 20% over the next 5 years
- 41% expect to reduce costs more than 20% over the next 5 years
- 55% expect to increase efficiency by more than 20% over the next 5 years.
By 2020, IoT is forecasted to reach a staggering $1.29 trillion! The journey to achieve real world success when it comes to Industry 4.0 will require more than just the technology. It takes time and innovation, with a step-by-step approach proving more effective for growth.
Step 1 – Planning for the long term
Over recent years, production has come to heavily rely on automated control systems. In order to drive real change on an enterprise-level, the mindset must reach beyond the production floor and encompass the complete operation. This could require a complete overhaul or perhaps a subtle equipment shift however there should be a desire to think “what if” not “what now”.
Step 2 – Current Vs New
Industry 4.0 and its cousins IoT and IIoT are helping to redefine the technological age. New applications are reaching the market every day; applications that can augment both current systems and new infrastructure. Whilst it can sometimes be easier to replace a complete system with new technology and hardware, organisations should look to what is already currently available and what can be augmented – perhaps not as a long-term solution but a stepping stone towards the smart factory environment.
Step 3 – Work with IT
IT opens access to the data and information that drives transformation. A smart factory initiative needs to be agile, real-time, cloud-based and available for access across multiple channels and devices. The lion-share of a strategy will focus on production-heavy areas, not those of the back office. Collaborating with IT will help to build an effective partnership that will continue to play a vital role moving forward.
Step 4 – Choosing the right partner
A strategy is more than just buying the hardware – you’re going to need the right partner. A partner, like ECA Services, can help you understand the applications available, what best practice would recommend and the standards that weave underneath it. Here at ECA, we can offer unique insight with our 100+ years of combined experience as well as offer access to one of the industry’s most diverse portfolios from our partners Advantech and Dell EMC OEM. We can help with everything from case studies and mock-ups to proofs of concepts and prototyping. When choosing a partner, you need one that supports you through the complete transformation, not just the technology.
Real steps forward will come when companies look to actively change their roles in tomorrow’s ecosystem. In the US, this change will most likely come from investments in manufacturing whilst in Western Europe, transportation and utilities will grow into the second largest IoT sector. This growth will be grounded in the uptake of IoT-based technology but many need to look beyond the innovations of others and focus on the ideas that can improve the areas that matter most to them. Whether they’re groundbreaking or not, combining change with perspective can lead to innovation.