Genesis of Industry 4.0
Since the last three decades, manufacturing companies have made great strides in productivity gains under the Operational Excellence theme driven predominantly by use of Lean Six Sigma methodologies. However, Lean continuous improvements have been heavily people centric, based on small volume of batched shop floor data, visually driven and mostly in stable repetitive situations. Efficiency and customer satisfaction were the primary focus.
Since early 2000, a wave of technological and sociological change has taken place and Lean implementations have turned over a new leaf. The ubiquitous sensorization of products and machines, connectedness of these devices, generation of 4Vs of big data and advanced data algorithms have given rise to the next generation of digital Lean focused on agility in supply chain, customer experiences over the whole life cycle of the product and convergence of material and information flows. Traditional Lean approaches like Kaizen event with static VSM, Gemba walks and process waste elimination will now be replaced by continuous data and behavior monitoring of processes, analyzing the data captured, making intelligent predictions and aiding people with superior decision support systems.
This is the relevance of Industry 4.0. It refers to the real-time digital integration of suppliers, producers, and customers along value chains and business models. Expected business outcomes are added value to customers in new profound ways and creation of enterprise wide, digitally driven agile operating systems. Simply put, Industry 4.0 is a personalized digital transformation journey, for a manufacturing company to create competitive advantage and generate profitable revenue growth. Manufacturing companies risk being quickly irrelevant without making Industry 4.0 a very high priority mandate and being able to execute it at scale.