Ireland is home to some of the world’s front-runners in industry 4.0 and is frequently cited as one of the readiest nations to exploit the benefits of industry 4.0. It is time to capitalise on that readiness.

The importance of this disruption to industry is recognised nationally and internationally. Across the globe, governments are investing in industrial R&D centres to ensure their manufacturing companies are equipped for this disruption.

In Europe, massive funding is committed to large-scale research programmes and knowledge transfer for the benefit of industry. One such example is the Digital Innovation Hubs, which act as a one-stop-shop for industry to access a vast range of knowledge, expertise and technologies across Europe. Nationally, the Irish government has launched flagship initiatives such as the Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund to help industry develop and adopt next-generation manufacturing technologies.

 

Human workers and robots streamlined for increased productivity

 

There are many technologies that can legitimately be grouped under the umbrella of Industry 4.0 as they share a common “digital thread”, which interlinks connected workers, smart products, smart processes and whole supply chains.

Ireland is home to some of the world’s front-runners in industry 4.0 and is frequently cited as one of the readiest nations to exploit the benefits of industry 4.0. It is time to capitalise on that readiness.

Manufacturing plants are now some of the most advanced workplaces on the planet with engineers and operators augmented with collaborative robots to increase productivity and streamline repetitive work, mobile platforms for knowledge sharing and decision making, and augmented and virtual reality technologies to enable interaction in both physical and digital domains.

The digital thread also carries through into processes, where digital twins enable real-time monitoring and control of quality and service. 

Beyond the walls of the factory, the digital thread connects the manufacturing process to the smart supply chain and, eventually, to the customer.

The winners in Industry 4.0 will be the ones who build strong bonds with their consumers. They will respond quickly and in an agile manner to customer demands and will meet the highest standard of user experience to secure the strength of their individual relationship.

 

Consumer-led customisation is the new norm

 

Through digital technologies, consumers now have much more of a direct connection to the manufactured product. Mass customisation is the new reality, from individualised medicine through to personalised garments.

User interaction into the smart supply chain enables a value-add relationship between supplier and customer like never before and the ability for manufacturers to create brand connectivity and loyalty. Additive manufacturing processes, such as 3D printing, enable direct digital manufacturing and also the ability to customise each part to customer requirements.

Transformation in manufacturing industries is happening at a much faster pace and it is imperative that manufacturing companies stay up to date with how these disruptions will impact them. Technology investment needs to be built around measurable business outcomes and long-term competitive advantage. First adopters and fast followers are trying to understand how disruptive technology will bring benefit to their business.

Getting under the hood and discovering which innovations and technologies are going to be significant in Industry 4.0 to each company necessitates that manufacturing industry start today to demystify and de-risk their investments.