Technology never sleeps. The patient, steady endeavour to alleviate daily toil doesn’t get put on hold. Advancements filter through, massaging our working lives, at a rate that is not always immediately noticeable. However sometimes, technology leaps. Sometimes, there’s a revolution. First it was the mechanisation of industry, then came mass production, assembly lines and electricity, the third industrial revolution brought us computers and automation. And now, as we enter the fourth, Industry 4.0, the age of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), Internet of Things and Big Data; manufacturing companies need to secure their futures and not get left behind.
No Longer Just a Buzzword
UK manufacturers have been slow to adopt Industry 4.0. Whether that be a result of an industry wide lack of understanding of emerging technologies or maybe even just refusal to embrace change; for too long the UK has been neglecting to give Industry 4.0 the attention it deserves. A recent PwC report found German industry plans to invest 3.3% of turnover into Industry 4.0 within the next 5 years. A figure seven times greater than that of Britain’s planned investment – despite the UK manufacturing sector being a quarter of the size of Germany’s. With this scale of investment in the birthplace of Industry 4.0, the rest of the manufacturing world Germany inspires can’t be far behind. British industry can no longer afford to err on the side of caution. Research from the EEF states that 6 out of 10 manufacturers now believe the UK is at risks of being left behind unless there is an increased focus on investment and research. They have little choice but to automate if they want to continue to compete on a challenging global scale.
Factory of the Future
Cyber-Physical systems, Big Data, and the Industrial Internet of Things are the digital presence in a very traditional and tangible sector which could spell the difference between your business sinking or swimming. This is particularly apparent within industries which require high levels of regulation such as food and beverage, pharmaceutical or chemical industries. Industry 4.0 would allow businesses to avoid potential cost implications that could stem from these regulations. Not only could they be fined for not being able to provide tractability information but also suffer prolonged periods of halted production if an unwanted substance enters production. A move to Industry 4.0 would allow greater traceability of materials and stock, meaning problems can be resolved quickly and down time is kept to a minimum.
The traceability of a process is only ever as accurate as the data inputted. Not only can this input be time consuming and mind numbing for the inputter but also leaves margin for human error. If this process can be automated however, you can free up the staff for other activities and virtually eradicate any errors. This cornerstone of Industry 4.0 results in more accurate traceability, happier staff and increased productivity.
Reap the Benefits of the Inter-Connected Factory
Industry 4.0 is greater than the sum of its parts. Cyber-Physical Systems, the Internet of Things, Big Data and automation can work independently but it’s when they work in conjunction with each other you begin to reap the benefits of the inter-connected factory. However, with so many disparate data streams used these days, manufacturers struggle to combine the data to gain useful insights, often leaving them with a ‘gap’ between their business and their Industry 4.0 intentions.
Bridging The Gap
DataSwitch is a systems integration and data manipulation tool designed to support the automatic flow of information from one business system to another, allowing businesses to connect multiple data streams and applications without complex coding. DataSwitch was purpose built by K3 Syspro to work alongside SYSPRO ERP to help better analyse and utilise the data held in your business, making it the competitive advantage for companies adopting new technologies, embracing the IoT and taking steps to automate the supply chain.
As well as being a catalyst for Industry 4.0, DataSwitch can also be the renaissance for legacy systems. The data can be exported from MRP or MRP II systems and channelled into a modern ERP system, making the replacement of enterprise software and Industry 4.0 more accessible for SMEs. DataSwitch is as versatile as your imagination. The more imaginative you are, the more value it can deliver to your business. DataSwitch truly bridges the gap between Industry 4.0 and businesses of all sizes.