The current buzzword among leading Malaysian Industrialists is ‘Industry 4.0’ or IR4.0. This may change the way manufacturing processes are managed which might result in significant economic gaps including loss of jobs. Before we jump into any negative thoughts, let us try to understand ‘Industry 4.0’. In a nutshell, it is the evolution of industrialization.
i. the era which agrarian societies made the shift to industrial and urban societies using powered, special purpose machinery and factories is referred to as the Industry 1.0 This transition which took place from 18th to 19th century which saw the emergence of steam engines and textile industries. Britain is called the birthplace of the industrial revolution, then being the world’s leading colonial power.
ii. Industry 2.0 commenced at the start of the 20th century. when Henry Ford introduced the assembly line manufacturing in automotive industries and standardized various processes in manufacturing giving rise to basic concepts like factory layout design, supply chain, and mechanized operations.
iii. The advancement of technology and the use of micro-electronics opened the doors to higher optimization and automated processes. Industry 3.0, often referred to as the ‘Digital Revolution’ began with automation, product design, quality analysis, inventory tracking and supply management through a number of software applications developed by companies like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft.
iv. The term Industry 4.0 refers to the combination of several major innovations in digital technology. A number of new technologies reached maturity at about the same time and are poised to transform the energy and manufacturing sectors with amazing new capabilities.
Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google; the F-A-N-G effect began towards the end of Industry 3.0 giving rise to data accumulation that has acquired the adjective ‘big’.
BIG DATA technologies include:
- advanced robotics – AROBO
- artificial intelligence – AI
- sophisticated sensors – SS
- cloud computing – CC
- Internet of Things – IoT
- data capture & analytics – DCA
- 3D printing – 3DP
- smartphones & mobile devices – SMD
- algorithmic platforms – APs
Whether or not you are in the manufacturing line, it is essential that you know about Industry 4.0, in particular what it has in store for each one of us : –
- Real-time Monitoring
IR4.0 allows machines to get connected cooperatively to seamlessly and quickly adjust production settings to cater for market requirements. Furthermore, real-time production control through data visualization and evaluation are key to enhance flexibility, productivity and efficiency. Real-time monitoring allows managers and administrators to view a live data stream on the active conditions window on any smart monitoring device – screens of PCs, laptops, iPads, iPhones, LCD & LED displays, etc. This live reporting allows administrators to view user activity at the same instant thus enabling better allocation of resources and reduce waiting time; it effectively increases customer satisfaction and the bottom line
- Talent shortage
The latest revolution is set to create talent crisis in both the engineering and ICT sectors. Companies will be clinging on to their star performers, which mean that recruiters will need to become increasingly savvy in how they choose their talent. The top management and HR department need to know the new market inside-out, keeping a close eye on the skills landscape as it evolves.
- Industry 4.0 Needs More Women
In Malaysia we have seen the upward trend of the enrolment of female students in engineering studies. Female students graduating from engineering courses have risen from 3% in 1981 to 28% in 1991 and about 50% in 2010. The latest industry revolution in particular IR4.0 avoids gender and racial discrimination allowing an increase the recruitment of women talent into most sectors.
By their very nature, many of the current expected drivers of change have the potential to enable the narrowing of industry gender gaps. Household work could be further automated, relieving some of the current dual burden women faces and allowing women to put their skills to use in the formal economy. – The Industry Gender Gap, World Economic Forum 2016
- Mistakes Cost Less
Scenarios such as product recalls will be an act of the past. IR4.0 enables manufacturers to be able to take even more care of their products right from the very early stages of design to avoid such expensive mishaps. Less mistakes, not only reduces the cost of manufacturing, the products also become safer, faster, more efficient and in many cases, less expensive.
- “New” – An Incredibly Short Lifespan
On-demand manufacturing of custom prototypes and low volume production of parts is one of the fastest growing areas in the IR4.0, thanks to advancements in manufacturing technology. Now, the software can offer instant quotes, shorten lead times and give manufacturing process feedback to the customers directly. Customers may able to find replacement parts or appliance to suit their individual needs.
- Not Billions…, Trillions – GET READY
The IR4.0 and its subsectors are no longer worth billions but rather trillions. According to a survey by PwC, companies worldwide are set to invest approximately 5% of their annual revenues on digitization. Based on the industry sectors surveyed, this would equate to a total global investment of US$ 907 billion per year.
A major focus of these investments will be on digital technologies like sensors or connectivity devices and software applications in manufacturing execution systems. In addition, industrial companies are investing heavily on training employees, in-house technology enhancement drives and organizational change, all leading to extra business.
- Map Out an Industry 4.0 Strategy
Many MNCs have already begun digitizing their businesses to exploit the opportunities presented by IR4.0. However, in Malaysian companies, Industry 4.0 still remains only on the lips of top management; an organizational change in the form of a holistic approach is overdue.
The time is already ripe for Malaysian industries and businesses to evaluate the level of readiness in all areas of Industry 4.0 so that the strengths and weaknesses can be addressed. So, start to Map out an Industry 4.0 strategy.