Five Common Myths About Industry 4.0

It’s no secret that the manufacturing industry is undergoing a massive transformation at the moment. To stay competitive, manufacturing companies are under pressure to implement smart manufacturing solutions that digitize and automate processes and workflows.

Whenever there is seismic change within an industry, it’s inevitable that there will be disruption, confusion, and, in some cases, anxiety surrounding it. The two immediate challenges facing manufacturing companies are:

  • How to realistically plan and implement Industry 4.0 technology.
  • How to get employee buy-in and reduce fears that it will replace them.

Identifying common misconceptions about Industry 4.0 and addressing them will help managers and shop floor workers to gain a clearer picture of smart manufacturing, formulate realistic expectations of what it can achieve, and reduce fears that it will replace workers and managers.

Misconception 1: Industry 4.0 will Cause Job Losses

Let’s address the biggest myth first, which is one that creates a lot of anxiety for manufacturing employees. Smart manufacturing technology will not put everybody out of work. It’s true that Industry 4.0 technology will lead to the automation of many manual tasks and jobs, but it won’t replace people altogether.

History has shown that automation may make some jobs redundant, but often creates new jobs and opportunities in its wake. For instance, when Henry Ford introduced the assembly line in 1913, it reduced the time taken for a crew to build a car from 12.5 hours to 1.5 hours, which meant more production, more sales, and the employment of more staff.

As manufacturers implement more smart manufacturing solutions, new roles will arise such as technicians, data scientists, software engineers and opportunities for specialist machine operators.

Misconception 2: Smart Manufacturing is Expensive

Compared to the cost of installing assembly lines and robotics, the cost of smart manufacturing is relatively low. Of course, there are upfront costs associated with the planning and implementation of any sort of automation process. However, these costs will be quickly offset by increased efficiency, higher quality products, shorter lead times, and lower overhead costs associated with manual processes.

The return on investment of Industry 4.0 can be very high, with a McKinsey report suggesting that the addition of AI and automation technology can lead to:

  • 30 to 50 percent reduction in machine downtime.
  • 10 to 30 percent increase in throughput.
  • 15 to 30 percent improvement in productivity.
  • 85 percent increase in forecasting accuracy.

Therefore, manufacturing companies that achieve even the lower end of these potential business gains stand to recover their initial expenses very quickly.

Misconception 3: Implementing Industry 4.0 Is Highly Disruptive

A common objection to smart manufacturing solutions is that the installation phase will cause large-scale disruption to production, which businesses simply cannot afford. This is simply not true.

Smart manufacturing systems can be phased-in gradually with minimal disruption to operations. Specialist engineers and technicians are available to take care of the planning and implementation of the technology.

Modular smart manufacturing platforms are highly flexible and scalable. For example, you can start with a solution to enable predictive maintenance first, before adding another module to automate production orders, then another to capture and analyze quality data, and so on. A good Industry 4.0 platform integrates seamlessly with your existing processes and equipment to automatically capture data, build digital twins, and generate valuable insights. It can also be upgraded as business growth allows.

Misconception 4: Smart Manufacturing Only Provides Automation

It’s correct that automation is one of the main outcomes of smart manufacturing technology, but it is not the only benefit. Smart manufacturing also connects people and processes with relevant data to improve problem solving and boost productivity. AI and machine learning can also be incorporated to further improve operational performance.

For instance, digital twin models, combined with machine learning analysis, enable managers to pinpoint inefficiencies at various stages of the production process. From this, managers gain valuable insights that lead to the implementation of on-the-ground solutions to increase efficiency, improve quality control, and reduce overhead costs.

Misconception 5: Industry 4.0 Only Applies to Large Enterprises

Another misconception is that Industry 4.0 only applies to large enterprises with deep pockets that can afford expensive technology solutions, such as robotics or sophisticated machine learning engines.

While it’s true that many large companies invest heavily in these technologies, it is not limited to blue-chip businesses. Small businesses can also reap Industry 4.0 benefits by introducing relatively low-cost internet-of-things (IoT) devices into their production line, combined with a digital twin model to help identify inefficiencies.

Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing technology is the future. Companies that embrace these new technologies will reap the rewards in increased efficiency, cost savings, better customer experiences, quality gains, and more.

Don’t let misconceptions and myths about smart manufacturing hold you back.

  • Industry 4.0 is likely to create as many new jobs as it will replace. In fact, it may increase job opportunities by stimulating business growth.
  • Smart manufacturing provides a good return on investment, and the initial outlay is likely to be recovered quickly through increased productivity and efficiency.
  • Implementing smart manufacturing is straightforward and causes minimal disruption. Smart technology can often integrate with existing hardware and networks.
  • Industry 4.0 solutions provide end-to-end benefits, not just the automation of data capture and processing.
  • Smart manufacturing solutions are available for any size of manufacturing company – big or small. Modular smart manufacturing platforms enable bespoke solutions.


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