Plant managers carry a huge responsibility for running a smooth, efficient, safe manufacturing floor, and they take pride in it. It’s also one of the positions most deeply impacted by Industry 4.0 and everything surrounding it. They have a lot of questions about how it can resolve the potential of keeping workers safe, improving quality, and bringing efficiency and competitive goals to fruition. So, how can the technological solutions of Industry 4.0 bring the future of manufacturing operations and make plant managers jobs less stressful and more successful?
What does Industry 4.0 Mean for Plant Managers?
The ultimate goal behind Industry 4.0 is to hyper-automate supply chain management so it’s fully coordinated from the point of product design, research and development all the way through production, sales, customer service and maintenance. New technological solutions help plant managers sift through data about all of these different processes faster, so they can optimize operations to achieve unheard of levels of customization for their customers while reducing manufacturing costs, protecting worker safety and eliminating the vast majority of non-compliance and quality issues for a very high quality, reliable end product.
New technological solutions that put real-time, high-quality data into plant managers’ hands can help achieve these goals. This conceptualization of the “smart factory” involves equipment that has been hooked up to the network and uses a variety of sensors to gather and analyze real-time data. This stream of incoming data isn’t just big, random data. Digital and mobile analytics tools make sense of it, draw patterns from it, and can quickly help plant managers protect and empower workers, boost production quality and optimize operations for overall efficiency and cost savings. In short, Industry 4.0 puts easy-to-use digital tools in plant managers’ hands to help them do things they’ve always envisioned doing in new, better ways.
Industry 4.0 Makes Operations More Agile and Resilient
The past year has been a particularly revealing time for showing why Industry 4.0 is a critical next step, not just to the survival of companies, but for their ability to thrive and compete under challenging circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic was particularly hard on so many supply chains, which led to panic-inducing shortages, which led to empty shelves, and even led to some companies going out of business. On the flip side, some companies that were already digging deep into the digital transformation and letting data guide their decisions were able to withstand the shocks the pandemic dealt with their systems. They weathered the storm and even discovered new ways to thrive in it.
One of the key discoveries that rose to the top during this process is that manufacturing companies that had already advanced Industry 4.0 methods were able to optimize their operations during the crisis using a “control tower” model. These companies already had cross-functional teams working together on a regular basis, sharing real-time data across departments, in order to get better supply-chain transparency that enabled them to make fast, smart decisions. They were able to quickly find new supply sources, determine which lines of production to ramp up, which lines to pause, and how to best adapt their shop floors to provide worker safety and keep people working under COVID-19 protection protocols. Because these companies were already using the control tower model, staffed by strong leaders from across departments, fueled by real-time data analysis, they were able to endure a situation that surprised most people, and which continues to change the face of manufacturing going forward.
To be clear: Industry 4.0 isn’t a reaction to the crisis. Yes, it helped those companies who were already on board to manage the crisis successfully. But really, it’s a way of understanding how industry works now, and can work better in the future. The tools it provides can make any company far more resilient and agile in an ever-changing world, giving them more tools to cut waste, protect workers, reduce costs and create more sustainable solutions for the world.
Industry 4.0 Brings the Future of Manufacturing Operations
Because data—smart, automated data—is the name of the game for Industry 4.0, it is an essential piece of “equipment” plant managers. As in the “control tower” model, it helps plant managers plan better for any contingency and act on changing conditions with smart, data-driven decision-making. No time is wasted backtracking paper processes because the data is live and being analyzed digitally, moment-to-moment. This improves productivity, prevents downtime, keeps workers safe and boosts quality by helping plant managers see potential issues before they happen, so they can make necessary adjustments quickly.
Anvl Brings the Future to Plant Managers
Innovative mobile apps like Anvl keep remote workers safer, and improve collaboration by knocking down communication roadblocks and capturing critical data in the moment. Click here to request a demo and talk to our experts today to bring the future of manufacturing operations to your business