Industry 4.0: Transforming Manufacturing In The UK 2021

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Published on
Written by
Michael Bird

What is Industry 4.0?

Allowing your business to transform its manufacturing means that that you’re allowing for more opportunities within your processes, but more important is to define the business initiative, for example Digital Transformation. A powerful way to transform your manufacturing is to adopt the fourth industrial revolution known as “Industry 4.0”.

How did we get here?

The transition between new manufacturing processes was the start of an industrial revolution and is most commonly divided into 4 main revolutions:

The First Industrial Revolution started in the 18th-century harnessing steam power and mechanizing production.

The Second Industrial Revolution was in the 19th century with the discovery of electricity and the start of the assembly line.

The Third Industrial Revolution started in the 1970s and was a huge leap ahead of where the advent of computers and automation ruled the industrial scene. More and more robots were used to perform the tasks which were performed by humans.

The 4th Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) is now.

The current revolution can best be defined as the following:

  • Interoperability – All systems can communicate with each other.
  • Decentralization – The ability to design independent sub-processes with cyber-physical elements, and make decisions autonomously.
  • Real-time analytics – The gathering and analyzing of big data so that processes can be effectively monitored, controlled and optimized.
  • Virtualization – Producing virtual replicas of physical processes and models.
  • Service orientation – Transferring additional value through new or enhanced services.
  • Modularity and scalability – The flexibility to adjust to industry and organization requirements, as well as scale technical capacity where necessary

With all the revolutionary introductions mentioned above, industry 4.0 has been met with a few challenges.

The Industry 4.0 Challenges

What about my legacy Systems?

Manufacturing companies often find that they have a wide range of manufacturing plant that was introduced over a fairly long period of time meaning that they have an array of different connectivity capabilities. This challenge is easily overcome by adding a new technology layer on top of existing legacy systems enabling companies to make far smaller adjustments and add intelligence, sensors, and automation on top of the existing structure.

Is there an ROI?

Efficiency, productivity etc. must be considered especially as we see companies getting back to full production following the Covid-19 pandemic. To truly understand the potential ROI we need to move away from the traditional proof of concept (PoC) approach and go to Proof of Value (PoV). What this means is during the PoV you obviously want to know that the technology works but more importantly the focus needs to be on the business value and the improvement it brings.

Where do I start?

There are always numerous questions, do I focus on tool and inventory management, quality control, process optimization, material management and savings etc. etc. there are so many potential questions it is very difficult to get going.

Start by defining the main business problem you want to solve. We can help you estimate how smart your factory currently is and which areas should be improved. This initial exploration phase is important to determine which areas to optimize first. Which business initiative do you have? Read about how we address different business initiatives, for example Digital Transformation. 

Once you have established the criteria of the project, I would highly recommend that you work closely with a technology and a service provider (Internet of things, IIoT with product suite PTC ThingWorx and PDSVISION) to manage the entire project. Our experts will create a step-by-step project plan including training cost estimation and success measures. We strongly believe that any successful business system implementation or change requires a close partnership, and we will closely with you to ensure its success.

Use the data

Manufacturers should know how to analyze and utilize data wisely, or else the wrong conclusions might be reached. Many manufacturers end up gathering a massive amount of data, only to sit and stare at endless information with no clue as to how it should be interpreted.

We would suggest that you enquire about our services and the PTC ThingWorx platform on how to overcome this problem. Our first suggestions would be to take off the workload by:

  1. Automating data gathering, manufacturers need not worry anymore about resources or efforts that are involved in gathering so much data.
  2. Generating actionable insights based on that data and leveraging AI. Let the machines run complex calculations, predict future scenarios based on historical data, simulate different decisions and their consequences and send us, eventually, simple and clear recommendations as for what to do:

We are experts in this field and always willing to help businesses adapt to the ever-changing environment of industry 4.0.

In Summary

Every challenge has a solution, and you need to research and implement it, step by step. By reaching out for assistance or advice on how to best manage large amounts of data, your business has the opportunity to stay ahead of the curve.

Reach out to talk to one of our experts.


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