The plant manager's guide to Industry 4.0

OTTO Motors

On October 26, 2017, managers from across North America joined us for a live webinar on the opportunities and challenges of Industry 4.0 for plant managers in manufacturing. The following is an introduction to the information presented by Simon Drexler, Product Director for OTTO Motors, during the webinar.

What's changed in manufacturing?

As manufacturing continues to see its contribution to the global GDP shrink, manufacturers across the world are feeling the effects of a changing industry, including:

  • A shrinking labour force and difficulty with retention, especially among the younger generation of workers. In the next decade, 3.5 million jobs will go unfilled, 2 million of those due to a skills gap.
  • Rising labor costs are making it harder to put out a positive bottom line while remaining competitive globally.
  • Increased competition from foreign companies, and stateside manufacturers with cheaper labor, property, and utility costs.

Industry 4.0 can revitalize manufacturing in North America

To succeed in today’s manufacturing industry, plant leaders must do things differently to win market share. It is not enough to maintain the status quo or to make 1-2% incremental improvements year over year according to standard continuous improvement plans. To make progress, manufacturers must focus on growth that can be leveraged using Industry 4.0 technologies.

Building a smart factory with cyber-physical systems capable of sharing information, triggering actions and essentially communicating with each other is the goal of Industry 4.0 plant managers.

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Centralized operational data Is the key to Industry 4.0

The data available to manufacturers now from the interconnected industrial solutions and equipment on the shop floor are essential to the success of business in Industry 4.0. The data provides an extreme focus on the current state of the people, processes and products that allow manufacturers to make real-time and intelligent decisions for improved efficiencies. These decisions lead to less time and money being lost for the business as a whole and benefits everyone within the plant.

Poll: What Industry 4.0 benefit is most important to you and your organization?

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Where can plant managers start with Industry 4.0?

Drexler recommends the following steps for plant managers looking to get started with Industry 4.0 in their facility:

1) Invest in plant WiFi infrastructure.

2) Educate yourself and your staff.

3) Take a first step.

Take the first step towards Industry 4.0 with smart material transport

Concordia University estimates that anywhere from 30-70% of the total production cost of a good is material handling. As the key to connecting the various processes, equipment and work cells on the shop floor, material transport is a critical KPI for plant managers looking to make a significant improvement in production costs.

Poll: Have you looked into automating material handling?

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To make progress in the manufacturing industry today, plant professionals must automate their facilities as soon and as quickly as possible. Manufacturing in North America can become a competitive leader in the world again because of the opportunities available with Industry 4.0. To find out how automating material handling with autonomous technology like OTTO, can give your business the advantage you need, watch the full recording of the webinar here.

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