Four steps for manufacturers to enter Industry 4.0

  • Date
  • 01 July 2021
  • Author
  • News team

There's a lot of talk about "Industry 4.0" but what is it - and what should manufacturers do to join it?

Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, is really just the next phase of the third (digital revolution) and marks an era for manufacturers and supply chains in which they become part of the global cloud digital ecosystem.

This new environment, supported by cloud connectivity, incorporates things like real-time automated data, machine learning, factory floor automation, A.I., drone tech, 3D printing and the Internet of Things.

Before Covid-19, "Industry 4.0" was quite the buzz phrase. In the wake of it - given supply line challenges, the hybrid onsite/remote work era and a need to ensure future business continuity, it will be the normal way of operating.

The growing trend for manufacturers to move from on-premise to cloud ERP is a launch point for entering Industry 4.0., because it moves an enterprise into the ecosystem of the future. In essence, it's the most fundamental step forward since connecting to the Internet decades ago.

Why direct more investment towards technology?

There's no doubt that manufacturers can see significant improvements on the shop floor and across the enterprise by embracing cloud connectivity and modern automation solutions.

A joint survey on "smart" factories from PwC and the Manufacturing Institute showed that increased productivity, lower labour costs and new revenue streams were among the top benefits realised by manufacturers after deploying Industry 4.0 technologies.

73% Of manufacturers surveyed were planning to
increase their technology investments in the next year

Perhaps you're considering a similar move - but where should you start? We turned to our global partner Infor for the key  steps to take, and the tech stack to build, in order to be Industry 4.0-ready.


Step one: digitise your shop floor

A lot of manufacturers are still using paper-based shop floor processes to track progress on work orders, find parts and direct assembly sequences for specific orders.

The latest cloud manufacturing software brings on board tools to automate and streamline processes with inbuilt functionality that anticipates the needs of different users based on roles and custom-defined workflows. The software enables faster decision-making thanks to easy-to-read data dashboards, workbenches and uncomplicated reporting.

Which software will support this step?

■ Infor's industry-specific CloudSuite™ ERP (your foundation platform, onto which further modules are added)
Infor Coleman® AI Platform
Infor Birst® cloud business intelligence and analytics

Step two: make your supply chain transparent

All competitive manufacturers strive to fill out customer orders more efficiently. Another survey, from industry advisory
firm BDO, revealed that 23% of midmarket manufacturers are looking to supply chain technologies to help speed up their order cycle times.

These end-to-end technologies can give manufacturers a network-wide view of inventory on order, helping them to spot potential bottlenecks, whether from suppliers during transport or once new inventory is at the manufacturing facility.

The software to acquire:

Infor Nexus™ multi-enterprise supply chain network
Infor CloudSuite SCM supply chain management solution
Infor Supplier Exchange for manufacturers and suppliers
Infor CloudSuite WMS (warehouse management solution)

Step three: augment your workforce 

Collaborative robots - “cobots” - aren’t designed to replace
human workers, but to work alongside them to help
handle mundane jobs or physical tasks that take a toll on workers' bodies over time.

With robots taking over the work humans don't need to do, your employees can focus instead on applying innovation, creativity, reasoning and critical thinking to operational challenges or opportunities.

At the same time, intuitive and semi-automated software
can help them spend less time and effort on administrative tasks, workflow planning and data aggregation and analysis. 

You will need:

Infor CloudSuite Workforce Management (WFM) solution
Infor CloudSuite Human Capital Management (HCM) solution

Step four: enable predictive asset maintenance 

Shop floor equipment and assets need to keep running - even if the machinery is a little past its prime and requires frequent repairs, or even replacement. Reactive maintenance is no longer adequate - fixing broken equipment during one emergency after another is a drain on resources and can even result in costly shutdowns. By contrast, predictive maintenance catches problems before they happen.

Today's enterprise asset management software systems combine predictive capabilities with real-time business intelligence and A.I. drawing on algorithms, to project next-thing-likely outcomes. Employees can test-out “what if”
scenarios and assess forecasts of likely costs and probable
demands, to drive proactive decision-making.

Complete your tech stack with:

Infor CloudSuite Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) 

And that's it, you're finally free of legacy technology limitations and equipped for industry 4.0 in the cloud, where all future software advancements and innovation will take place.

But why Infor software in particular? Infor, which is outpacing bigger competitors in this particular area, designs industry-specific ERP solutions that are fast to implement and equipped to meet the very different needs of a range of industries - because what works for a hotel chain or retailer is going to be different from what works for a chemical or steel company. In discrete manufacturing Infor has built cloud solutions unique to Aerospace & Defense; Automotive; High Tech & Electronics; Industrial Machinery & Equipment, and Industrial Manufacturing. 

As an Infor Gold Partner, EMDA has partnered with many manufacturers in these sectors, to migrate them from on-premise ERP to cloud, then provide ongoing support as they scale up. Contact the team here to start a conversation.

Source material Copyright Infor 2020.