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INDUSTRY 4.0: What Are You Waiting For?

Author: John Broadbent, Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 Evangelist | Realise Potential

Most of us know we had an Industrial Revolution that changed the world, which is deemed to have happened around 1784, with the invention of steam power, the weaving loom and the beginning of mechanisation.

In 1870 with the invention of electricity, mass production and assembly lines, we entered the second industrial revolution.

Almost a 100 years later, as Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969, electronics, automation and computers were starting to find their way into manufacturing, and so the third Industrial Revolution was born.

Then in 2011 Germany coined the term ‘Industrie 4.0’, which emerged as an acknowledgement that a new industrial revolution was upon us. This new paradigm was based on the fact that the emergence of cloud-computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and what’s become known as cyber-physical systems (think autonomous vehicles, auto-pilots, smart grids and HMI/SCADA systems) provided a new opportunity for manufacturers.

Initially, like any new paradigm shift, the uptake would require some time to establish itself. Was it a new ‘fad’? Was it only for global manufacturers? Would it take off? Was the promise of digital transformation simply a pipe-dream?

Here we are now, a decade later and surprisingly, there are still manufacturers who’ve not heard of the term Industry 4.0 (or 4IR for the 4th Industrial Revolution), and others that still think it’s a fad or a gimmick, and not really relevant to them.

All we have to do is search the Internet for credible reports from organisations such as the World Economic Forum and their global lighthouse network (GLN), to see real-world examples of substantial manufacturing improvement. 

My personal experience of building multiple ‘smart factories’ that leverage Industry 4.0 concepts, has shown me that when done well and in a deliberate and strategic way, Industry 4.0 is an enabler for those manufacturers wanting to do more with less.

Those that have ventured along this now well-worn path have experienced improvements in operating efficiency, energy usage, waste reduction, time-to-market, productivity, quality and customer delivery metrics, just to name a few.

With the impending advent of the circular economy and our global resources pool diminishing year-on-year, every manufacturer needs to take a closer look at how Industry 4.0 can improve their triple bottom line of profit, people, and the planet.

It’s as simple as that. 

Join me at the APPMA Business & Industry Conference in Sydney to learn more about the ‘Secret Sauce’ of Industry 4.0 and how Coca-Cola Amatil built a world-class smart factory in just six months.