8 Steps to Prepare Manufacturing Company for Industry 4.0
In the digital era, data is the new oil. As a result of Industry 4.0, businesses now need to manage large amounts of data in real-time.
This poses a challenge for the manufacturing industry in Malaysia. Many manufacturers still operate their production with little useful data and analysis. This is particularly true in the case of small and medium manufacturers.
However, many local manufacturing companies have been working hard to figure out how they can improve their processes and implement technology to prepare for IR 4.0.
Let’s look at what steps manufacturers should take to get ready for the future.
1. Change the culture and hiring practices
With IR 4.0, companies will rely heavily on data, which means people will have to be able to manage it and provide insights to make better decisions.
In the past, companies often hired people with specific skills; however, with technology advancement, workers need to be trained to be adaptable and able to work across different fields, including IT and engineering.
It is also important for companies to hire employees from different backgrounds. This will help them break away from their current culture that is too focused on metrics and lean production.
It will also help them bring in new ideas and methods that might not have been considered before. This can be a challenge for some companies, but it’s crucial if they want to adapt and survive in the new digital economy.
2. Upgrade the Infrastructure
When it comes to infrastructure, manufacturers should start thinking about adding sensors to their equipment and wiring them to the internet. This will help manufacturers track the data coming from their machines and give the team insight into how they can be more efficient.
With these sensors, manufacturers will be able to track the health of their machines and automatically receive a notification if there’s a problem. In addition, manufacturers can also adjust their machines accordingly to increase efficiency.
For example, if a certain machine is being used more than normal, a manufacturer can use machine learning to automatically change settings to increase production.
3. Invest in smart machinery and production tools
With Industry 4.0 in mind, manufacturers should start working towards incorporating Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors into their machinery. This will allow the team to track data and create a more efficient process.
For example, a manufacturer could add a sensor to measure the temperature of a certain machine. If the temperature rises above normal, the manufacturer can receive an alert, which will save time and money by preventing breakdowns and repairs.
Another way manufacturers can prepare for Industry 4.0 is by investing in collaborative robots (cobots). Cobots are designed to work with humans to increase collaboration and efficiency.
For example, if a manufacturer is creating a car, they may use a laser cutting machine. That machine will create toxic fumes, which can be dangerous for humans. With a cobot, the manufacturer can program it to work with the laser cutting machine to cut parts out of metal to create the car. This will help protect workers and provide a safer environment.
4. Check and monitor production live data
As we mentioned above, manufacturers should start monitoring data coming from machines to understand what’s going on in their production process. Doing so will help manufacturers make better decisions and figure out ways to improve the flow of work.
For example, if one machine isn’t producing enough parts or the process is taking too long, manufacturers can look at the data to see what’s causing the problem. This will help manufacturers solve the issue and increase productivity.
If a team monitors its production data using an industrial internet of things (IIoT) platform , they can also integrate it with other systems to get a more holistic view of their operations.
For example, many IIoT platforms can integrate with a machine’s operational information system (OIS) or a computer operating system (COS). This will allow manufacturers to get real-time updates on their production data, as well as see other operational data, such as where their inventory is located.
5. Implement data analysis and factory automation
Now that manufacturers have real-time data and they know what’s happening in their factories, they should automate their processes. This will allow them to run a more efficient and streamlined operation.
By checking production live data using data analysis tools, businesses can find out which production process takes the unnecessary time, which operator is under performing, what are the things that cause defects occurring.
They’ll also be able to determine what can be automated as well as what tasks need to be completed by human employees.
Having the right automation software will allow businesses to scale as they grow. Producers will be able to respond more quickly to customer orders, and they’ll have more time to focus on innovation and improving their products.
6. Add 3D printing in manufacturing process
Manufacturers can also start incorporating 3D printing into their production processes. 3D printing has become more advanced over the years and is now capable of creating metal parts. This will allow manufacturers to create unique parts and create iterations of a design to make sure it’s the best it can be.
In the past, if a company wanted to create a prototype of a product, they would have to create the moulds for that product, which can be expensive. Now, manufacturers can create a 3D model and send it to a 3D printer to create a prototype at a lower cost.
The addition of 3D printing will allow manufacturers to speed up the design process. For example, a company can create 3D models of all the parts of a new car, then let the designers create iterations of the parts to ensure they’re the best they can be. This will help reduce the time it takes to design new vehicles and other products.
7. Add AI and robotics in manufacturing processes
If you’re ready to jump ahead and implement AI and robotics in your production processes, that’s great.
Manufacturers can use software to program machines and robots to handle certain tasks. This will allow producers to handle more orders and deliver products faster. It’ll also help them use less human labour.
This is important because machines will be able to perform tasks more efficiently than humans. Along with automation, these tools can help companies achieve greater scalability and profitability.
That said, manufacturers need to make sure they’re using the right equipment and software. Otherwise, they won’t be able to benefit from these technologies.
8. Explore opportunities in the Metaverse
Finally, as more companies start adopting Industry 4.0, they’ll need a place to share data and collaborate with each other. This will help businesses become more efficient and find new ways to solve problems they might be encountering.
To solve this issue, companies have created social networks, called metaverses, where companies can share data and work together to increase efficiency.
For example, Siemens and ABB have partnered together to create a social network called ABB Ability. This platform allows companies to manage their operations, collaborate with other businesses, and analyse data together.
As businesses operate in a digital world, they need to make sure their operations are up to date. This means upgrading the way they operate, manage data, and innovate.
They also need to think beyond traditional business models, focus on the level of employees’ skills, the financial resources available, and the willingness of employees to adopt the new technologies.
Ultimately, it depends on how committed they are to implementing the tools that can help them prepare for Industry 4.0.