While Industry 4.0 has served as a growing interest among manufacturing circles, proactive actions to implement I4.0 systems have been in limbo, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. Historically, manufacturers have been focused on the immediate – what can we do to keep production running now instead of focusing on what can we do to improve future production. After the immediate reaction of survival first and damage limitation – manufacturers will be confronted with the need for innovation and recovering lost production. And that’s where Industry 4.0 can help.
Industry 4.0’s value proposition has always been centered on competitive advantage, productivity, sustainability, and innovation. Now more than ever, these values are integral to supporting manufacturers who are struggling to overcome and adapt to the current and future economic climate. So, how can Industry 4.0 help organizations recover and prepare for a future pandemic?
Here’s our list:
- Real-Time Visibility of the Plant Floor: Industry 4.0 allows for a deeper understanding and solid metrics around inventory, capital, raw materials, work in progress, and finished goods. These metrics are integral in understanding your plant’s capacity for scaling up or down in response to internal and external needs.
- Process Automation and CoBots to replace Human Capital: Imagine being able to scale down your human capital needs, respond to social distancing effectively, and keep production running through the use of collaborative robots (cobots).
- 3D Printing: Small batch production of essential parts that may be tied up in the supply chain can be made possible through the use of 3D printing.
- Cloud: Being kept away from the office doesn’t mean that you have to be kept out of the loop. Remotely monitor operations from anywhere leveraging cloud technologies.
- Cyber Security: The sad truth is that times of panic result in an uptick in security threats. Ensuring that your system is proactive against these threats is crucial in protecting your information and critical production.
- Remote Access and Virtual Work: Everyone is now familiar with the importance of virtual work as it’s become a critical business operation these past few weeks as remote work has become essential. But imagine being able to remote into your plant floor – getting alerts on production, identifying lapses and faults in machinery, and gathering actionable data in real time all from the comfort of your own home.
- Virtual Reality and Technology Training: Gaps in our workforce during and after COVID-19 will call for immediate training of personnel to cover outages in the workforce. Through the use of video and virtual reality training the time it takes to get an individual up-to-speed can be greatly reduced.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Avoid unnecessary maintenance cycles and keep essential machines running until the machine tells you it needs to be serviced via artificial intelligence.
As manufactures get back on their feet, they’ll be confronted with what they could have done better – learning from the crisis and developing a more resilient and agile business structure. So, can any of these I4.0 improvements be deployed now to help deal with your organization’s crisis? Or can any of these I4.0 improvements be deployed soon to help your organization become more resilient in the future?
Don’t return to work and purely just return to work. Set yourself and your organization up for success.
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