The JPMorgan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) has steadily hovered above the 50 point mark (indicating expansion instead of contraction) in the last year. This month it has hit its highest since April 2011, at 53.5. This leaves the industry looking healthy for Q4, with many countries (including Singapore, Germany, and the United States) showing increased activity in the manufacturing sector.
How can your company get ahead of the competition, win more RFQs, get more business, and keep costs low? Well, unless your business has a very unique product, your opportunities lie with streamlining your processes and a profitable sales approach. It's time for a digital transformation, helped by manufacturing technologies.
Embracing Industry 4.0 Is The Key To Getting Ahead Of The Competition
As per Forbes, Industry 4.0 introduces what has been called the “smart factory,” in which cyber-physical systems monitor the physical processes of the factory and make decentralized decisions.’
That is a mouthful, so let’s break it down in simpler terms: You know how they say Big Brother is always watching us? Well, in this case, it’s the same thing, except…the opposite. Instead of the government using technology to monitor our every move, it’s now us, using cutting-edge technology to monitor all our manufacturing processes. From smart sensors helping you to keep track of your supply chain and purchasing needs, to CPQ solutions helping you to generate more accurate quotes, to Internet of Things (IoT) devices ensuring constant connectivity…Industry 4.0 aims to provide data, predict trends, and make processes much faster by digitalising them.
Want Manufacturing Success Stories? Industry 4.0 Has Many
Yes, this fourth Industrial Revolution requires some investment, but companies have seen huge growth by implementing machine learning, IoT, or cloud-based CPQ solutions.
For example, a report by The Manufacturer and GE showed that ‘BASF used a software system to build a high-fidelity, detailed, kinetic model of one of its batch processes and then applied dynamic optimisation techniques. It resulted in a 30% reduction in batch time and significant energy savings.’ Implementing machine learning can increase production capacity up to 20% while lowering material consumption rates by 4%.
Prima Frutta, a cherry company, installed automated equipment that provided managers and workers with data about the current cherry line process, and increased production by 50% without a single new hire.
Stories like these are everywhere. In a PWC study, companies that implemented Industry 4.0 initiatives expected to reduce operational costs by 3.6% p.a., while increasing efficiency by 4.1%, on average.
Opportunities For Industry 4.0 In The Next Year
What can your company do, then, to reap the benefits of Industry 4.0? Well, firstly, you need to identify areas where you need help. Do you have any data collection methods? Or, do you have a ton of data but most of it is just tossed aside and left unanalysed?
If you don’t have any data collection methods, then implementing IoT will be crucial. According to a study by Market Research, ‘IoT will play a major role in data collection from multiple facets of the value chain’ by 2020, as big data becomes mainstream in data analytics.
If, on the other hand, you’ve already implemented IoT but don’t know how to make sense of the data collected, then start with the key metrics you require and work from there. Looking to reduce costs? See what the data is telling you in terms of cost vs. revenue.
In the end, Industry 4.0 WILL become the norm in Manufacturing. It’s up to you to figure out how to use it efficiently and effectively.
Want to see an example of how our CPQ solution helped a customer reduce their time-to-quote from weeks to minutes? Watch our on-demand webinar below!