Combat Industry 4.0 Challenges
A lot of manufacturers and distributors have their sights set on becoming an Industry 4.0 enterprise. IoT, automation, cloud computing and other advancements have given birth to the smart factory, a modern shop floor that generates real-time data and streamlines production to promote greater efficiency and collaboration.
Unfortunately, many businesses have pumped the brakes on Industry 4.0 projects after coming up against some major roadblocks. The time and resources required to transform into a smart factory are perceived as insurmountable obstacles for small and midsize manufacturers. But modernizing your manufacturing business is a much more achievable goal than you might think. No matter the size of your organization, there are ways to smooth over roadblocks to embark on a successful digital transformation. We’re covering a few methods of overcoming Industry 4.0 challenges.
Ditch Legacy Software
Legacy software poses one of the biggest challenges to Industry 4.0 projects. Too many businesses rely on outdated applications that can’t keep up with growing demands. Furthermore, these legacy platforms are unable to integrate with new software systems or support cutting-edge technology. While manufacturers often put off software projects because of the cost, they’re actually hemorrhaging money by keeping archaic applications. Companies dedicate about 70% of their IT budgets to maintaining outdated solutions that no longer work properly.
For any digital transformation strategy to pay off, it’s important to get a fresh start by migrating off your existing legacy software and implementing modern solutions. Businesses often compile multiple disjointed systems that result in poorly managed data silos. With ERP software, you can replace these applications with a single solution. Epicor ERP provides accounting features, inventory control, supply chain management, quality assurance and other valuable modules. Your IT teams won’t need to maintain several applications, and users can instantly access data inside one platform. This streamlined solution reduces costs and improves business performance to provide a strong foundation for your Industry 4.0 enterprise.
Develop a Roadmap
Any business undergoing digital transformation doesn’t reach the destination overnight. Instead, it’s an ongoing process that consists of multiple projects designed to improve your business performance and continuously update your technology. Regardless of the budget or requirements, any manufacturer can evolve into a smart factory by developing a well-planned, incremental strategy.
A successful journey to become an Industry 4.0 enterprise starts with a roadmap that lays out this strategy, and every roadmap looks a little different. How your roadmap looks will depend on the current state of your manufacturing processes and infrastructure. With key decision makers, stakeholders and executives across your business, analyze your existing processes and pain points. Work together to answer questions about your digital infrastructure and operations:
- Where are you storing data?
- What are your biggest sources of waste, delays and errors?
- What do customers expect from you?
- How can transparency and automation improve specific tasks?
- Which assets are adding value to your company, and which ones are experiencing costly issues?
From carefully mapping your processes and identifying issues, you can develop a shared vision of your Industry 4.0 strategy. Create an incremental approach that aligns with your budget, and prioritize your requirements. For example, you might want to migrate off one legacy application at a time rather than replace all your systems with ERP at once. Or, you might need to update old machines before implementing IoT technology. Just make sure each project is centered around clear business goals to avoid excess costs and wasted investments.
Work with Experts
Frankly, many businesses don’t think they have the time to worry about new technology. Other goals are higher on their priorities. Plus, small manufacturers and distributors often lack the internal expertise to execute these projects. For these companies, Industry 4.0 projects can seem like they offer high risk and little reward.
What these businesses don’t realize is that no organization is immune to Industry 4.0 advancements. One study found that 94% of companies position digital transformation as a top objective. Any enterprise that holds off on updating their digital infrastructure will start losing market share and customers to cutting-edge competitors.
But no business should take on these projects alone. A consulting firm can organize and manage your Industry 4.0 journey to mitigate risk and maximize the rewards. Consultants offer the IT skills and practical business experience to understand how to incorporate innovative technology into manufacturing and distribution enterprises. With experts at your side, you can pursue digital transformation without shrugging off regular duties and other business goals. Seek out a consulting firm that offers a wide variety of solutions and services, so you can receive support for top-to-bottom improvements from a single source that thoroughly understands your enterprise.
The end goal of digital transformation is not to plant robots across your factory or incorporate AI tools into your customer service protocols. It’s to optimize business performance by taking advantage of cutting-edge technology. You can’t run from the Industry 4.0, so it’s time to develop a strategy and update your technology to ensure future business growth.
Datix is an Epicor Gold Partner and a one-stop shop for manufacturing and distribution solutions. With ERP, CRM, eCommerce, integration, BI, cloud hosting and disaster recovery solutions under one roof, we can do whatever it takes to improve your enterprise productivity. From start to finish, our certified consultants execute projects that align with your business needs and meet your budget requirements. Unlike most consultants, we stick with you after the go-live date to offer on-going support and improvements.
Let us be your partner for digital transformation. To learn more, contact one of our experts today!