In September, we published an article on the three levels of manufacturing maturity which are linked to mass production, labor, and information technology departments. In the same vein, we present the fourth level: industry 4.0.
This 4.0 industry involves scanning, connectivity, and automated data exchange. This new wave uses the Internet of Things or IoT Concept enabling machines or equipment to communicate with each other without human intervention. Any object becomes intelligent and almost automated, globally from logistics to plant production process, we experience a total value-added production.
Considering that manufacturing sector is gradually mobilized towards this fourth level, companies need to develop new strategies to ensure their continuity. These strategies may include the planning of their operating capacity, future investments in technologies and human capital.
It is a fact, the province of Quebec is late in this transition. We are observing a disparity in the evolution of manufacturing maturity levels of Quebec manufacturers versus the global trend. Manufacturing productivity was slowed considerably by the lack of investment in innovation and in new technologies education and implementation in companies. According to a 2014 study by Centre for Productivity and Prosperity HEC Montreal, this productivity slowdown has had a domino effect on Quebec’s economy in general, dragging down consumer spending habits.
BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF 4.0 INDUSTRY
When manufacturers reach the fourth level of maturity, which means integrating automated and connected processes, there are substantial benefits such as:
- Increasing productivity.
- Eliminating logistics management problems.
- Reducing downtime through predictive notifications.
Let’s consider a North American manufacturing company which receives a purchase order from Japan (electronically, of course), but which has not in stock the merchandise requested this Japanese purchaser. Using an automated system, it can automatically control the raw materials needed for production, prioritize this particular order in the production line, produce and pack using automated equipment, and finally ship the merchandise to the client. In an ideal world, all of these processes could be done in a plant without employees. You see the savings potential? While the 4.0 industry is still trying to define itself, many companies have started their digital migration using several automated systems and intelligent processes. While structuring themselves, Canadian manufacturing companies face many challenges such as resistance to change and of new technologies implementation. Every business is unique and must develop its own action plan: unfortunately, single and universal applicable process to follow does not exist.
4.0 DIRECTION WITH MERKUR
Are you ready to dive into the 4.0 industry? Merkur’s consultants are here to guide you to the next level. We have been working together with our customers for the past 20 years to improve their manufacturing strategies using approaches such as the 5P: a comprehensive analysis of products, processes, productivity, production and people (staff).
We are here to bring our engineering expertise at work for you. Contact us now! 1.877.571.0222