More often than not, if we don’t change willingly, the world will force change upon us. It’s the only constant, especially in business. Companies must change to keep up, to stay ahead, and to stay afloat. Right now in the manufacturing industry, processes and systems are changing rapidly and permanently all because of Industry 4.0.
This isn’t a new term; it is a movement that has been making its presence known for the past few years. However, the industry has reached a precipice where there is no going back, no more stalling. To remain competitive, digital transformation is the path to take.
You’re probably asking – what is Industry 4.0? What is digital transformation? You’ve maybe just figured out what TikTok is, and now this? While the social media app may be an amusing way to spend some downtime, digital transformation will help your business become streamlined, data oriented, and highly efficient. Industry 4.0 simply represents smart manufacturing, helping businesses to become agile and productive, and digital transformation refers to the integration of digital technologies into each area of your business. This can profoundly disrupt your processes for the better, allowing your business’s data, technologies, and people to all function together. This therefore improves your interactions with customers and suppliers alike. From top to bottom, every area of your business can be elevated with digital transformation.
Netflix is a great example of this. The company began when brick and mortar video stores, like Blockbuster Video, still existed. After some time using the postal service as a way to send DVDs back and forth, Netflix found a way to digitize and stream movies, changing the way we not only “rent movies”, but how we watch television all together. Additionally, Netflix uses the data consumers provide to predict what shows or movies would be enjoyed next, trying to give the customer what they want before they know themselves and stay ahead of the competitors.
Let’s look at this in terms of what all businesses have to overcome these days. There is the ever-present challenge of competitors, as well as the need to reduce costs while increasing profits. To add to that, more and more disruptors keep rearing their heads, from Covid complications, to natural disasters, to supply chain issues, and the Great Resignation. And this is just to name a few.
Complacency is not an option for manufacturers. Industry means innovation, and innovation brings disruption to the norm. Each and every one of a customer’s needs must be met all while still keeping costs down. Resources, including time, data, and people, need to be used efficiently in order to increase productivity and reduce waste. Machines need to perform at the highest level, with regular maintenance and upgraded software. Everything needs to work together in order to stay ahead of the competition.
How is this done? With smart manufacturing.
Smart manufacturing provides a streamlined, effective way of process and procedures, beginning with collecting and analyzing data in a way that it can be easily accessed. However, smart manufacturing connects technology and staff via data, but also through things such as automation and robotics. Through technologies like AI, the Internet of Things, and other digital technologies, your business should function with agility and efficiency, bringing connectivity between your customers and your business.
While the cost of having a smart factory might give you pause, the benefits to having that kind of efficiency far exceed the initial spending and disturbance. An ERP system can digitize and connect information, communications, and operations business-wide, and because of that, manufacturing companies can look for advantages like the following:
Better Product Quality: because technologies like sensors and automatons can greatly reduce inefficiencies on production lines, product quality increases, as does customer satisfaction.
Increased Productivity: Data is shared throughout, allowing employees the information needed when they need it. Additionally, updates and other maintenance needs are run automatically and in advance, so employees don’t have to wait on the technology. This can help with things like the supply chain; data can be used to order just what is needed and make sure it arrives when it is needed, increasing productivity and profits.
Reduced Overhead and Operating Costs: With greater product quality as well as increased productivity, savings are sure to follow. In addition, AI can help balance resources in terms of materials and waste reduction and personnel. It can automate certain jobs so that employees can focus on other tasks requiring innovation.
Predictive Maintenance: Much like how kids react when there is no internet for their Youtube or Fortnite, machine downtime in manufacturing has steep consequences. However, with technologies like ERP systems, factory supervisors have greater visibility into the machines and what they need. Therefore, problems can be solved before they really become problems.
What are examples of how this can be used in your business?
We live in an on-demand world. Without actually speaking to another human being, we can order a pizza and have it delivered, get an Uber that might show up without a driver in the car, and even get a babysitter for our kids. Everything is available at a customer’s fingertips.
Ways of using this to your advantage in a digital world would be to allow social media to bring customers to you. This may also help you get further information about your customer, and like Netflix, predict what they need before they even ask for it. Also, including chatbots or other self-service portals on your webpage means that customers can have at least simple questions answered immediately. And of course, most of the manufacturing industry is still trying to find supply chain resilience, so digitizing will help to reduce issues and find a network of global suppliers.
Many businesses want to think of digital transformation as a job for someday. But the truth is, we’re here now. It’s time. You have data, but if it isn’t connected, it isn’t helping you to assess profitable business moves, and it isn’t working for you. The world is moving too fast to not begin your company’s digital transformation.
To find out how your company can thrive in this fast-moving, ever-turbulent market, reach out to out consultants at Godlan. They can help you assess the current level of flexibility and agility in your technology, and talk to you about how ERP solutions and other advanced technologies can bring your company to the head of the game. For more information, visit www.Godlan.com or call 586.464.4400 today