Apr 08, 2021
In our last manufacturing-focused blog, we explored the topic of the fourth industrial revolution known as Industry 4.0. This highly developed revolution focuses on the use of technology, automation, and digitization for operational efficiency. Many are now curious to know how this new phase of manufacturing was impacted by the disruption of the pandemic. With a vast shift from in-person work to a more remote setup, Industry 4.0 experienced a surge in the scaling of related technologies.
According to a survey by McKinsey, of their 400 respondents, 94% of respondents told noted that Industry 4.0 had helped them to keep their operations running during the crisis, and 56% percent said these technologies had been critical to their crisis responses. For those organizations who had already taken the leap to incorporate Industry 4.0 into their daily operations, the pandemic was a win situation. These early adopters were simply able to rely on their automation to overcome the loss of physical presence in their factories and at the same time utilize their real-time data analytics to assess their operations and make prompt adjustments.
For others, the pandemic was a wake-up call. Manufacturers who have yet to make the transition to Industry 4.0 were met with the stark reality of being unable to pivot during the disruption which left them negatively impacted. According to the McKinsey survey, 56% of respondents that hadn’t implemented Industry 4.0 technologies prior to COVID-19 found themselves constrained in their ability to respond to COVID-19 in the absence of digital technologies to support them.
While the pandemic made organizations realize the importance of Industry 4.0. It has also hindered progress. For some, the pandemic wreaked havoc on cash flow and talent creating a sort of catch-22. The need for automation and digitization is apparent, but without the capital to support the transition, manufacturers are stuck in a rock and a hard place.
So what is next? Manufacturers must first recognize the value-add of Industry 4.0 and commit to scaling their operations to include features of this forward-thinking revolution. Once committed, the next step is to develop a detailed plan. Given limited resources, having a strategic approach will ultimately maximize the benefits of smart technology without having to reprogram due to short-fixes. The biggest hurdle is making the decision to scale and take the first step. Whether it’s setting up your current system to pull data in an efficient manner for future data analytic software or focusing on best practices for remote working, committing to Industry 4.0 is the first step. Don’t make the mistake of discounting Industry 4.0, it could be deadly in a time of disruption. Organizations that learned from the pandemic, have embraced this new revolution, and can be nimble during uncertainty are those who will survive and thrive.