Thursday, 29 March 2018

With increasing competition, growing markets and rising customer expectations, it is not going to be enough for manufacturers to simply maintain the status quo.

In order to survive and thrive, manufacturers must focus on growth, meaning it is crucial to embrace Industry 4.0 technologies. Industry 4.0 encompasses the current trend of data exchange and automation in manufacturing technologies which include IoT, cloud computing and cognitive computing.

ERP vendors and resellers are developing solutions that are ready for Industry 4.0. This follows an expectation of a boom in Industry 4.0 technologies as well as an increase in manufacturing processes that embrace the principles of the fourth industrial revolution.

Through the digitizations of products and the processes that create them, a production environment that's superior, more connected and increasingly more efficient can be developed.

Whilst most ERP manufacturers are aware of the anticipated Industry 4.0, according to a report by myForesight, only 30 percent have begun to invest and utilize modern technologies in their processes. Research has shown that those businesses who have jumped the digital bandwagon have experienced growth at above average rates in the last three years.

The vice president of marketing-manufacturing at Epicor software, Terri Hiskey, in order to best prepare for Industry 4.0, businesses need to analyse existing IT systems to see if their current ERP will be able to cope with the changing demands.


What does your current ERP software architecture look like?

Auditing and assessing your current software is crucial in order to see how "future-ready" it is. In a fast moving Industry 4.0 world, ERP software acts as a central management platform for those along the supply chain which can be subject to continuous requirement in terms of scalability, data management and connectivity with third party systems.

If regular changes are costly and burdensome for your business, then your ERP systems may not be well suited to Industry 4.0

How do your systems currently communicate?

You should also consider how different departments in your business relate and communicate with one another as well as what kind of data they share. In order to see the benefits of Industry 4.0, all departmentsshould be able to have access to the same real-time production data on an ERP system.

Are your decisions based on pure gut instinct?

One of the key principles of most businesses is the ability to make quick and accurate decisions. These decisions must be data-informed. For many businesses, the access to detailed production data quickly and efficiently is difficult, with many business leaders resulting to make decisions based on gut instinct or previous experience.

Using this method of decision making will make it incredibly difficult to measure success or track ROI. Industry 4.0 based ERP systems, you can access the real time data needed to make business decisions with conviction.

Are you using multiple data sources?

Hiskey believes that an ERP solution that is Industry 4.0 ready should allow different departments in a business to speak the same language.

The integrated analytics function of today's ERP solutions allow for data to be stored and captured from many different business areas such as production process, customer behaviour data and market developments information.

By providing this 'networked view' of the business to all departments enables all employees, from finance to sales, to make decisions based on the same information. 

Do you have the same functionality in the cloud?

Hiskey adds that an ERP system that lacks a sophisticated cloud or hybrid option can be very limited for businesses that are growing and changing at a quick pace. An ERP solution that encompasses the use of clou, on premise and hybrid options built on the same architecture offers the ultimate level of flexibility.

Is your ERP ready for IIOT?

Successful ERP solutions will also take orders from machines. For example, when a machine part in an IIOT in ERP and maintenance are endless. If you want to fuel business growth with Industry 4.0, ask yourself the above questions to ensure your ERP solution speaks fluent IIOT. 

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