In a recent survey, 53% of the business leaders interviewed stated that adopting Industry 4.0 was a priority for the organizations. Ninety-three percent of manufacturing business execs in another survey agreed that Industry 4.0 offered better opportunities for productivity improvements than many other practices.
Merging physical and digital systems, Industry 4.0 is a unified, strategic approach to acquiring and using technology, as opposed to purchasing more of the latest products. The cloud, mobility, the internet of things (IoT), and big data analytics are often hyped as transformative technologies that can help companies realize their Industry 4.0 initiatives. However, there is no Industry 4.0 product. It’s a practice that many specialty chemical manufacturers, often already committed adopters of innovative process manufacturing, asset management, and quality management tools, will find to be a good fit.
In the chemical industry overall, companies expect dramatic results from Industry 4.0, including revenue increases of up to 64% from digitizing their product portfolios and annual cost reductions by 4.2% per year. The first chemical manufacturers to get into Industry 4.0 were leading, large enterprises, but today’s ERP, cloud, analytics, and mobility solutions have lowered the threshold for smaller companies to create their own Industry 4.0 on-ramp.
Until Industry 4.0 becomes routine, it still enables organizations to:
- Create competitive distinctions by launching digitally enhanced or enabled products and services.
- Empower employees in a more intelligent, flexible, and secure work environment.
- Optimize their operations.
- Create more value in collaborative, value-based relationships with customers.
In the chemical industry, the median employee age is at the high end of the labor market overall and a new generation of people is about to take over from retiring older contributors. Industry 4.0 and the pervasive use of digital technology to ensure individual productivity is invaluable in recruiting and retaining a highly motivated, well-trained workforce.
Once you know that your specialty chemical manufacturing business could benefit from Industry 4.0, an effective, low-risk way to begin an initiative is through a pilot project that yields improvements in one area of your operation. You can apply any insights to your ongoing Industry 4.0 efforts as you refine your strategy.
Today’s reliable, affordable, cloud based business applications can help you manage all business processes as well as customer relationships. They are complemented by the cloud’s powerful business insight and analytical resources. Together, these solutions can serve as the foundation of your Industry 4.0 infrastructure. Specialty chemical manufacturers and other production companies are already using them to realize the promise of Industry 4.0, preparing for sustained success in a volatile business environment where competitive challenges and supply chain disruptions can emerge from anywhere.
With low projections for growth in specialty chemical manufacturing and continued slowdowns in automotive, construction, and pharmaceutical industries for the near future, Industry 4.0 provides specialty chemicals companies an opportunity to gain a sharp digital edge and ensure their viability as thriving, growing businesses.
At Sikich, we have the industry and technology insight and solutions to help you shape your Industry 4.0 strategy and use the best current software solutions to get it underway. Sikich provides several free resources to help you move into your Industry 4.0 initiative. You can now download our whitepaper, Getting past Industry 4.0 hype to take advantage of transformative opportunities for creating value.
In the next three blog posts, we take a closer look at Industry 4.0 business and technical scenarios that may be interesting as your plan your own business transformation.