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8min May 30, 2023 8min May 30, 2023
May 30, 2023 8 minute read

Now is the right time to invest in Industry 4.0. Here’s why.

How connected is your company?

Before diving into Industry 4.0, you should know where your company stands in terms of digital maturity. Our short assessment can help.

The world is experiencing economic uncertainty. Manufacturing, like other industries, is facing headwinds. In fact, global manufacturing output fell for a sixth successive month in January 2023, according to the JPMorgan Global Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI™) compiled by S&P Global. 

But the current economic environment doesn’t mean your competitors are going to stop investing in technology, and neither should you. According to a study by McKinsey, organizations that invest in innovation outperform the market by 10% during economic downturns, and by 30% later when the economic landscape better regulates. In other words, Industrials need to continue investing to address today’s economic crisis and remain competitive for the future, improved state.

To get the most out of your budget, manufacturers should focus their spending on business enablers that drive competitive advantages. For example, addressing tactical needs that have immediate effects such as optimizing energy consumption, streamlining tools for higher efficiency, and reducing downtime will all improve your bottom line and allow you to replicate what’s working across your organization. 

Differentiate with Industry 4.0

To emerge on top in times of economic uncertainty, organizations must play offense. Industry experts suggest adding Industry 4.0 technologies, process improvements, and critical employees to help manufacturers fuel growth as economic headwinds build. 

Talent continues to be in high demand for Industrials, yet employees remain at the center of Industry 4.0. Finding the right strategy and building the right teams are important to complement the tool sets that you provide to your organization. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can bring a competitive advantage to both of these objectives. 

Adoption of IIoT has steadily increased globally, in part accelerated by the pandemic: manufacturers have realized the importance of technology in the face of supply chain issues and workforce shortages. Implementing the right Industrial technology can increase production, reduce waste, and improve safety. 

By making your teams, processes, and fleet more efficient, you save on both production costs and margins. IIoT can provide manufacturers with tangible values, including expanding capabilities and providing a critical competitive advantage. In fact, a recent Braincube customer saved $1.4 million in their first year of implementation

Below, we’re sharing three reasons why you shouldn’t put Industry 4.0 investments on hold in 2023. We’ll discuss specific examples of how IIoT is changing the manufacturing landscape and explore the potential benefits for businesses of all sizes.

Enhance cost savings now vs. later

The challenge: Smart Factories are not created overnight, and transformation won’t happen on its own. To successfully achieve digital transformation, you need to invest in both technology and your people. Yet, upfront costs often cause companies to shy away from bringing in digital enablement tools like IIoT. 

However, overall costs often decrease as a result of Industry 4.0 technologies. Plus, you’ll have greater knowledge of your manufacturing processes, supply chains, business performance, and even the products and/or materials that you manufacture. These insights create opportunities to innovate. You can modify a business process, develop a new product, optimize a supply chain, or uncover other efficiencies.

The solution: A IIoT platform aggregates real-time data from hardware, software systems, sensors, and other data points into a centralized environment. It bridges the gap between systems, people, and machines by pulling data into a centralized system. 

An IIoT platform is a springboard for improving connectivity, forecasting, and data analysis. Manufacturers typically seek an IIoT platform when they are looking to gain visibility and insights into their production. For example, what are the factors that impact quality control, downtime, production (output), and waste? How can data be leveraged to bring visibility cross-departmentally into what’s going on in your facility? The right IIoT tools can help you answer these questions (and more). 

See it in action: Learn how we helped a global tire manufacturer reduce waste by 35% on a single process resulting in $1 million in annual savings.

Achieve scalable production 

The challenge: With siloed data, competing IT/OT priorities, and the general complexity of manufacturing products, Industrial leaders have their work cut out for them. Aligning enterprise systems and factory operations can create a collaboration that ensures efficient operations. 

In addition to the tech challenge, employee turnover, changes in suppliers, and knowledge retention can all impact productivity. However, maximizing production can be challenging if you can’t accurately access data that can help you to combat these challenges.

The solution: The power of a Braincube-powered Digital Twin offers exciting opportunities for all organizations. Leverage Digital Twins—a digital replica of your entire production process and the materials that flow through it—to replicate the manufacturing DNA of each product you make. 

This data can be used for different purposes across your enterprise. SMEs and engineers use the cleaned database to run analyses that uncover hidden bottlenecks and identify ways to operate more efficiently. Frontline teams have access to quality improvement techniques. Maintenance can leverage trends to better inform their schedules. Access to the right data—in the format and use case—can help digital transformation efforts flourish across your plants.

See it in action: When a global building materials manufacturer was experiencing temperature variability, they worked with Braincube to build a Digital Twin of the production process from raw material to finished product. As a result, they could easily perform root cause analysis and reduce their process variability. They also gained greater control over their roofing product’s material composition, bringing in unexpected cost savings. 

Thwart labor challenges

The challenge: Skills shortages, rising labor costs, and an aging workforce are critical challenges all manufacturers face. 

Almost every manufacturing company today is doing more with less. A lack of technical employees, including engineers and data scientists, can result in burnout for existing technical teams. Legacy systems harbor data retention and employee enablement, creating a negative association that Industry has long battled. 

The solution: For many companies, IIoT is a promising solution to knowledge retention and employee enablement.

Industry 4.0 aims to digitize tedious tasks to free up staff to do more compelling work. IIoT specifically enables many monotonous processes to be automated. As a result, companies can continuously improve multiple aspects of their production even during a time when there are fewer workers available.

Self-service analytics solutions, which are part of a comprehensive 4.0 system like Braincube, level up your existing workforce’s capacity and skills. These tools ensure workers are properly equipped to take action, improve productivity and safety, and are able to continuously improve multiple aspects of production. Self-service tools also deliver a substantial impact on labor costs and overall operational productivity by augmenting the lower-valued tasks performed by data scientists or IT employees. 

Braincube’s Studio Application

Low-code/no-code applications enable anyone at your organization to gain insights that can move the needle on key cost-saving goals. For example, by bringing together real-time and historical data into one digital workspace, anyone on the factory floor can improve their working conditions. This level of visibility can help teams react more quickly as problems arise, in turn reducing overall downtime and “fires.” 

See it in action: Braincube’s Studio App makes it easier than ever to embed or integrate any digital data source into comprehensive dashboards. Whether your goals are centered on improving OEE, reducing waste, or optimizing energy, Studio brings data from the entire factory into one easy-to-access location. Learn how this leading paper manufacturer used Studio to repeat Golden Runs. 

Waiting is not an option

IIoT should be a key component for manufacturers considering or already pursuing digital transformation. The next six months will be critical for those seeking to optimize operations, scale effective solutions, and gain a competitive advantage amidst a looming recession. 

Manufacturers must seize the opportunity afforded by the latest advancements to start (or refresh) their transition to Industry 4.0. Even if it feels like others are running, companies must take the first steps toward digitalization to avoid being left behind. The good news is that there are knowledgeable partners in the IIoT space to help you build a viable crawl-walk-run strategy. 

Wondering how to get started? Here are some helpful tips for building a convincing case to bring today’s digital transformation tools to your business strategy.

Kickstart your stalled 4.0 efforts

Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination. But what if you’re on the wrong path? Read this case study to learn how a global elastomer company revolutionized its 4.0 strategies and found new success.

Achieve 20x ROI with digital transformation

Industry 4.0 can feel like a big investment, but it can pay off with very real returns. In fact, one of our customers saved $1.4 million in the first year they implemented IIoT. Here’s their story.

Self-service analytics is the future of 4.0

Self-service tools are crucial for overcoming today’s multi-faceted labor challenges in a scalable way. See how Braincube’s data analytics applications can work for you.