What is Industry 4.0? It may sound like a new buzz word, but it is the reality many of us live in today in most industries. It means the 4th Industrial Revolution. Whether we realize it or not Manufacturing, and many other industries are going digital. Digitization of information, big data analytics and artificial intelligence are all pieces of Industry 4.0.
To take a look back at the previous Industrial Revolutions we find that Industry 1.0 began in the 1780’s with the first introduction of machines powered by water and steam to help work in larger scale. In the 1870’s the advent of electricity spawned further improvements to process in order to better meet the needs of the customers. In the 70’s we begin to see computers and automation further propelling the Industry forward. This brings us to today and Industry 4.0 which focuses on the Internet of Things (IoT).
The benefits of Industry 4.0 are numerous. The information we can gather from equipment drives more predictive rather than reactive maintenance activities We can now automate re-supply of consumable material to reduce stocking overages as well as stockout situations. We are able to fulfill orders for our customers more quickly than before. We can utilize run data and demand information to make better use of our infrastructure and resources. The amount of data available for running our businesses is available on a scale never before seen! We are asking our processes to feed us more information than we have ever demanded of it in the past. How do we use all this information? How do we take these millions of data points and make it make sense? The tools used in Six Sigma can be a huge help. Six Sigma focuses on reducing variation through making sense of big data through the application of statistical methods. Using these tools and techniques can easily uncover when your process is starting to drift and create leading indicators that will warn you prior to creating bad product. All Leaders want more access to actionable intelligence and Six Sigma provides that.
Six Sigma compliments Industry 4.0. One example of how intelligent automation can now use that information is a work cell routing work away from a piece of equipment that is starting to show signs that it may be getting ready to produce poor quality. At the same time the IoT can automatically generate a Work Order for your Maintenance Staff to inspect the equipment while simultaneously alerting the operator to the abnormal condition. When these all work together the response time can be almost instantaneous.
So, where does Lean fit into all this? Having the most robust process and IoT solution is all for not if you are producing products which don’t meet the needs of your customer. At the root of Lean is hearing from your customers, understanding their needs and eliminating waste in your process that does not support the customer need. It is very easy to get stuck in the mindset of optimizing all your processes. Lean helps you to see processes that need eliminated rather than optimized which will save you time and money.
Industry 4.0 and Lean Six Sigma disciplines work very well together. Without the statistical analysis disciplines of Six Sigma all that big data is useless. If you are not using Lean and optimizing processes your customer is not willing to pay for you are wasting time, energy and money. In order to get the most out of Industry 4.0 you need to understand how all the pieces align.
The best way to get yourself and your team geared up for these new challenges is to invest in the skills they need for operating in this new data driven environment. The best way to align your workforce to Industry 4.0 is to invest in upskilling your current workforce with the tools they need to be successful. As a Leader in your organization you need to be constantly learning and upskilling yourself as well.
We are here to help. We are passionate about leaders being the best versions of themselves. We know as the Leader grows and flourishes, the company grows and flourishes. We want to come alongside you in your journey and help you and your company be successful. Schedule a call today so we can learn more about you and how we can help. Some have already speculated what Industry 5.0 may look like as well.