The potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) things in everyday life has been talked about a lot recently. Some have said that even the smart fridges of the future will be able to utilise the IoT to notice you’re out of eggs and order some themselves. But at Fascia Graphics we are really excited by its potential as the fourth industrial revolution; industry 4.0. Launched by Siemens at the Hanover Messe two years ago, the concept refers to the computerisation of traditional industries like manufacturing and predicts a transition to intelligent factories.
The potential of the smart fridge is easy to transfer into industry, for example restaurants will be able to monitor how much food they have, what they are short of and make adjustments accordingly, saving them money by reducing waste. The same principles can be transferred to many different applications. As an example, for the medical supplies industry this new technology will allow monitoring of temperatures remotely to ensure heat sensitive products are safely stored.
This collaboration of operational technology (OT) and Information Technology is the key to industry 4.0. Despite the technology to combine the two being readily available, there has been very little crossover between OT and IT on an industrial level. A study of manufacturers conducted by Industry Week found that only 14 per cent of executives indicated that all plant floor data is integrated with enterprise systems. Also about a quarter of executives indicated that little more than half of their plant floor machinery (not including computers) is internet enabled and 30 per cent reported that none of their equipment is internet enabled.
Despite the apparent limited risk of connecting a fridge to the internet, issues can arise when more and more of the production line becomes internet enabled. For example, hooking your production line up to the internet may allow you to control the manufacturing process remotely, but it may also open your business up to unwanted eyes. The security of connected devices must be prioritised to prevent crucial information being potentially stolen by competitors.
With the correct security measurements in place however, IoT technology can provide valuable benefits to the manufacturing process, creating an efficient leaner manufacturing process that can save you (and your customers) money in the future. In our 20 years’ of manufacturing graphic overlays and membrane keypads, we have transformed into a much larger and leaner operation because of large scale investment year on year. Utilising the IoT should be viewed as a tactical investment that will lead to a slicker operational management. Something that will also help achieve our goal of delivering bespoke products in the fastest time through an efficient design and printing process.
Individualisation is also playing a key part in industry 4.0. Individualisation of products is already an everyday reality, with customisable photo albums, t-shirts and calendars all readily available in a matter of days with any pictures you desire and in just a few clicks. This level of individualisation is something that has significant further great potential.
How could industry 4.0 impact Fascia…
To illustrate other ways in which we could see Industry 4.0 impacting our business, I see that there are three key areas of our business where it will have a significant impact. These are:
· Customer Delivery Schedules
· Online Ordering
· Stock Patterns via links to internal systems
Industry 4.0 is really about manufacturers continuing what they have been doing for years – striving for leaner operations that deliver products that are admired across industry. The key is making that tactical investment that makes the difference, and keeps you as the market leader.