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Industry 4.0 Manufacturing: 3 Ways to Maximize Your Competitive Edge

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When it comes to the manufacturing industry, optimization is key. Especially as you experience what many are calling a fourth industrial revolution, it’s critical to consider how smart manufacturing concepts could play a role in the way you operate your business. From using robotics to embracing 3D printing and the industrial internet of things, there are dozens of different ways that you can create a cyber-physical system that leads to a competitive edge in your business. If you’re new to the concept of industry 4.0, all of this can sound a bit heady, but by focusing on implementation and impact, it becomes much clearer how you can use smart manufacturing and machine communication to boost your business. Here are three ways to maximize your competitive edge.

  1. Use data analytics for product development and product optimization.

One of the major advancements in recent years is smart manufacturing. Real-time big data insights enable manufacturers to customize products to meet their customers’ specific needs. This is ultimately a win-win for customers and manufacturers, since it means that more personalized, customizable products can be developed for them, which, in turn, are more likely to sell better. Another major component of using data analytics for product development comes down to product optimization. When your factory has its automation managed by a cyber-physical system, those connections have major impact for suppliers. This is because adding a layer of communication technology helps you collect data on the speed and efficiency with which your machines can operate, too. All of this combines to create an environment where digitization, machine communication, and the internet of things (IoT) leads to an ecosystem where the physical processes behind your products are fueled by powerful data analytics that strengthen your offerings and the speed with which they’re manufactured.

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  1. Use real-time and predictive analytics to forecast demand and supply chain changes.

Another of the biggest advantages of industry 4.0 manufacturing is the fact that digitalization allows you to leverage real-time data to improve your manufacturing process. When you’re able to better forecast sales and predict demand, you’ll be able to be better stocked in order to keep up with that demand. For example, using historical data, you may recognize that there is always a slight bump in demand in warmer months of the year. This information could be put to good use if there’s a heatwave or unseasonably high temperatures in a typically cool month, since these sorts of fluctuations would be harder to notice without the technology brought to us by the fourth industrial revolution. Thanks to the internet of things, you could even have smart thermometers set to alert factory managers when temperatures are rising. Working in this way would mean that there’s a layer of human intervention via checks and balances for your supplier, but temperature sensors and connections to your supply chain still trigger this event.

  1. Artificial intelligence and IoT can power smart factory automation.

Ever since the Second Industrial Revolution, which brought the advent of production lines, manufacturing companies have been looking for ways to optimize operations. Thanks to smart manufacturing production processes, industrial IoT, and predictive analytics, the manufacturing industry is operating in the future right now. Artificial intelligence is offering unparalleled advances in the world of smart factory automation, which can ultimately save you a lot of money and even lead to better sustainability. AI and IoT can help you optimize your business operations in ways that you never would have imagined, since the new processes they are championing are fueled by advanced analytics. In scenarios where you’re using new technology to operate a smart factory, your lead times are reduced and you experience less downtime. All of this means that everything runs more smoothly, and allows you to generate more products, and by extension, more profit.

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