Industry 4.0: it’s not all robots and the internet of things

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If you’re in manufacturing, you’re probably swamped with messaging around industry 4.0. Automation, intelligence, sensors and the cloud are all combining to reinvent production, say its proponents. In the future factory, robots will do all the work, while one man and his dog loiter around the emergency stop button.

That may be in your future, but for most businesses it’s a long way over the horizon. Unless you’re Tesla, what’s more pressing and much more cost-effective is getting the best out of the staff, skills and resources you already have. Manufacturing is the complex balancing of inventory, equipment and skills against demand and competition. Effective management of your workforce and resources is a competitive advantage, and brilliant software can make a tangible difference.

How? Bespoke software that works across your organisation can combine financial, inventory, logistics, workforce and performance data to improve your agility. Quotes are quicker, production times can be faster, and production slots more flexible –  you can bid for and book last-minute jobs.

Software that understands the people, skills and qualifications needed to operate your plant can plan your resources better, maximising your use of the people and machines you’ve already got. You can go beyond simply finding who’s got the required skills for a job: intelligent software finds the person who’ll do it most efficiently.

A system that knows what’s coming in and going out allows you to take better control of inventory and purchasing, maximising discounts, minimising wastage, avoiding bottlenecks and keeping a lid on storage overheads. And software that does all of the above helps you flex your inherently complex organisation, so you can outbid, outmanoeuvre and outperform your competition.

So while the future of manufacturing might be autonomous robots and smart factories, the present is about building in the intelligence to maximise what you have. Right now, smart software is by far the most effective way to streamline your operations, improve your productivity, and drive competitive advantage. We’d love to hear about your challenges, and build the software that will keep you ahead of the game.

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