PwC made a stunning discovery in a 2016 survey: Digital 4.0: Building the digital enterprise, the most significant worldwide study of its kind. That while Industry 4.0 technology was still nothing more than a dabble in the global manufacturing industry, 3 per cent of the respondents said they had achieved this paradigm.
The 4th Industrial Revolution otherwise referred to as Industry 4.0, is described by i-Scoop as “the digital transformation of manufacturing or/production, and related industries for value creation processes” that represent a new stage in the organisation and control of the industrial value chain.
Encompassing the promise of a revolution in the manufacturing space, Industry 4.0 marries advanced manufacturing techniques with the Internet of Things (IoT) to create manufacturing systems that are not only interconnected, but that communicate, analyse, and use the information to drive further intelligent action back in the physical world.
It is characterised by automation and digitisation of the industries, personalisation, and customisation of products, closed-loop data models and control systems, and a shift to smart end-products.
Speaking about 4IR in an unrelated forum, Kenneth Ogwang, the CIO at East African Breweries Limited noted, “For me, 4IR is a consistent, purpose-driven transformation over the years.” Adding that, “We leveraged its technologies for the roll-out of The Distributor Management System (DMS) that transformed the way we interact with our distributors and for the distributors, their salespersons allowing them and ourselves to use data to make informed decisions.”
The DMS is an automated sales and distribution solution, that drives sales and distributor activities by providing optimal route performance and in-store execution. It also provides the insights necessary for the sales personnel to monitor sales KPIs in real-time.
Believed to reduce costs while increasing output, Industry 4.0 is now more pertinent than ever due to the impact of the pandemic that has disrupted the global supply chain, causing a spike in the demand for different supplies.
Its goal is to enable autonomous decision-making processes, monitor assets and processes in real-time, and enable equally real-time connected value creation networks through early involvement of stakeholders, and vertical and horizontal integration.
“We see industries leveraging the rapid development of 4IR technologies. It is likely going to lift productivity in all fronts further as we can already see through Automation, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, and robotics, to mention a few,” intimated Blen Woldeab, Change Manager at Diageo (EABL).
Many industries, especially those within East Africa, have however found it challenging to implement the kinds of technology solutions that make Industry 4.0 possible.
The PwC report notes that businesses often have to wade through the 4IR jargon to understand what’s on offer, and a solution, once selected, might require large-scale operational changes that can be difficult to implement.
The report recommends an evaluation of Industry 4.0 technology solutions for specific manufacturing outfits to help mitigate these as well as similar challenges. “One of the many misconceptions about Industry 4.0 is that it works as a kind of cure-all for any industrial business woes,” reads the report in part. It clearly is not. What is then?
Join CIO East Africa at the first-ever East Africa Industry 4.0 Virtual Forum, themed to Transform the Manufacturing Value Chain to learn more. The forum will be held on 6 August 2020 from 9am to deliberate on whatever concerns manufacturers have with their current business models and planning.