The Big Leap Industry 4.0 & ERP

As explained by Neil Armstrong, ‘The Big Leap’ is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Automation, machine learning, mobile computing & artificial intelligence - these are no longer futuristic concepts, they’re our reality. These innovations will make the industry & the world stronger & better. The above explains how a small step can evoke a massive change, a revolution that can transform the usual to something different, more meaningful that opens doors to a whole new world of possibilities.

Change moves us from the comfort zone to something different, not experienced before. It is this change that can drive innovation & add value to our lives. The Industrial Revolution, which took place from the 18th to 19th centuries, was a period during which predominantly agrarian, rural societies in Europe & America became industrial & urban.

The Big Leap Industry 4.0 & ERP

The 4th Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0, is driven by a combination of emerging technologies like data volumes, digitization, Internet of Things (IoT), business analytics, artificial intelligence, simulation, advanced robotics, additive manufacturing, sensor-based technologies & cyber- physical systems. Industry 4.0 would mean, the convergence of real & virtual worlds - the next phase in bringing together conventional & modern technologies in manufacturing.

Industry 4.0 introduces the concept of ‘Smart Factory’, in which cyber-physical systems monitor the physical processes of the factory & make decentralized decisions. The physical systems become Internet of Things, communicating & cooperating both with each other & with humans in real time, via the wireless web.

For India, Industry 4.0 brings numerous opportunities, to leapfrog many stages of development, fast tracking its journey, towards becoming a developed economy. In many ways, the 4th Industrial Revolution is a leveler. For an instance, growing number of smartphones in India, has fueled the increase in the overall ratio of apps that users download & use on their mobiles. A report by mobile analytics firm App Annie states, India is already the 4th largest app economy. Indian developers have created 100,000 apps; registering a growth of 57% over 2016. This has boosted the mobile technology usage in India. Similarly, the other technologies being used in India, will be in-line to those, used in the developed world. Robots, AI, IoT are all technologies transforming industry in the west & are ready to do the same in India.

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Data security, is a concern that can never be eliminated but yes, with a robust, reliable & secure ERP solution, this can definitely be controlled. In-house systems run the risk of hardware or security threats. Viruses can cause major disruption. Without robust anti-malware security procedures in place you risk having to reinstall, backup & reassert all trading relationships. The onus of security in a cloud-based ERP system is on the vendor.

Since, an ERP system supports multiple businesses, security is given the highest priority. Certain modern ERP’s scale, offer scalability such that as your business & processes grow/change, the ERP also scales without posing a threat, to the integrity of your processes even with less human intervention. Instead of the solution posing as threat, it should convince all members that the solution will help simplify their day to day transactions. This helps in quicker acceptance than resistance. It is critical to get the staff to understand-how an ERP will help them function more efficiently. Organizational change management can play an important role in the adoption of any ‘Smart Factory’ solution. The successful ‘Smart Factory’ journey, will require a motivated workforce, who embrace the change & accept greater impact on their roles, innovative recruiting approaches, & an emphasis on cross-functional roles. People are still expected to be key to operations.

  • Connected: ‘Smart factories’ require the underlying processes & materials to be connected to generate the data, necessary to make real-time decisions. Integration of data from operations & business systems, as well as from suppliers & customers, enables a holistic view of supply chain processes, driving greater overall supply network efficiency. An ERP, can help ensure this connection.
  • Optimized: Allows operations to be executed with minimal manual intervention & reliability. The automated workflows, improved tracking & scheduling, synchronization of assets, inherent in the ‘Smart Factory’ can increase yield, quality, as well as reduce costs & waste. An ERP can help automate, many transactions & processes thus facilitating the shift from purely manual to digital.
  • Transparent: Real-time data visualizations, can transform data captured from processes or work in progress products & convert them into actionable insights, for humans or autonomous decision making. A transparent network, can enable greater visibility across the facility & facilitates the organization to make more accurate decisions by providing tools such as role-based views, real-time alerts & notifications, real-time tracking & monitoring. The key advantage of an ERP is, to provide real time data that facilitates in decision making. These powerful analytical tools are necessary to give meaning to different data.
  • Proactive: Employees & systems can anticipate, act before issues or challenges arise, rather than simply reacting to them after they occur. This feature can include identifying anomalies, restocking & replenishing inventory, identifying & predictively addressing quality issues & monitoring maintenance concerns. The ability of the ‘Smart Factory’ to predict future outcomes based on historical & real-time data can improve yield & quality. An ERP helps organizations, to proactively take steps in improving the processes by providing a clear visibility of the functioning of different processes.
  • Agile: Flexibility allows the ‘Smart Factory’ to adapt to changes with minimal intervention. Additionally, agility can increase factory uptime & yield by minimizing changeovers due to scheduling or product changes & enable flexible scheduling. An ideal ERP solution, will provide flexibility to support different deployment models, with scalable features that helps you change & grow at your pace.
The above features, empower manufacturers with greater visibility across their assets & systems, allows them to navigate some of the challenges faced by more traditional factory structures, ultimately leading to improved productivity & greater responsiveness to fluctuations in supplier & customer conditions. However, it’s important to keep a balance between embracing innovation & being able to distinguish between “new” & “useful.”

Industry 4.0 binds companies & countries ever more tightly together- through worldwide supply chains & data networks- it will increasingly promote globalization. This presents scope for growing competitive markets, opening of capital markets, sharing of new ideas, practices, skills & technologies across national borders.

Under the initiative of Government of India’s “Make in India” program, India is forecasted to acquire a position as a global manufacturing hub. EPPS ERP aims to further drive the ‘Digital India’ & ‘Make in India’ initiatives of the Government, to the extent of making it inclusive & accessible for the SMEs as well. The time is now, either you embrace this wave of change and move forward with the digital revolution or continue with the traditional systems/software. To be a ‘Smart Factory’, you need an ERP that is robust, modern, dynamic, innovative, mobile & easy to use.

Are you ready to make the Big Leap?

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