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Seven steps to build your Industry 4.0 strategy and roadmap


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Technologies are redefining most industries. Photo: Fotolia

Put a strategy in place to successfully deploy your first initiative

As a manufacturer, you have grasped the basics and have a clear understanding of how important digital transformation and Industry 4.0 is to your company’s future. However, without a precise strategy in place, successfully deploying your first initiative is going to prove extremely challenging. With this in mind, we offer you seven steps to building your Industry 4.0 strategy. Think of this as a roadmap to your future.

  1. Identify industry and competitive drivers

You must understand where things currently stand and where they’re headed, from an industry and a competitive perspective. Where are you excelling and where can you improve? By examining industry trends and drivers, you’ll get a clearer picture of how to establish competitive differentiators and possibly open up new business avenues. For example, if your specific sector lags in real-time data sharing, building this capability will create a differentiator and therefore an opportunity to surge ahead of the competition.

  1. Map current technology architecture

Determine your current technology state compared to where it should be to get you where you want to go. Map your existing technology architecture to understand what is currently required to push a transaction through the organization. How does the data flow? Where does it flow smoothly and where are the friction points? All of these details help you gain a better understanding of where there may be major gaps in your systems and how upgrading will provide business value to your organization.

  1. Map current business frictions and gaps

This visualizes where the frictions, gaps and – ultimately – the opportunities to gain efficiencies lie. It’s necessary to dig deep and get very specific with this project, but it’s vital that you have an understanding of what’s going on within your organization that may be an impediment to you delivering on your Industry 4.0 strategy. Digital transformation requires rethinking how business is carried out, often resulting in significant changes to your organizational structure that will help achieve more streamlined business processes.

  1. Map future requirements

Bridge gaps with viable solutions. Build your case for change by mapping out the requirements of the future-state, including all the necessary modifications to organizational structures, data and information architecture and business processes, plus the technologies required to support it all. This will outline where you are today, what’s preventing you from getting to the future, and how you’re going to overcome these challenges to evolve into a more mature company.

  1. Build your future technology architecture

This involves three layers of Industry 4.0 concepts:

  • Edge computing – such as manufacturing control systems;
  • Fog computing – which is like a superset of edge computing, bridging the cloud and connected devices; and
  • Cloud computing – Internet-based systems and solutions that are available to many users.

Your own set of circumstances and business goals (in terms of automation, analysis, big data needs, flexibility to quickly and efficiently deliver last-minute customer changes, etc.) will ultimately determine the significance of the roles for each of these areas.

  1. Build your program plan

Outline exactly how you’re going to phase in your strategy by determining the order for each implementation stage and mapping out integration and acquisition timing. To support this strategy, you’ll examine areas that need to be implemented concurrently plus changes required to the organizational structure, business processes, technology and data. Assign project teams while also determining how best to manage the risks involved in this entire operation. With the completion of this step, you’ll have an Industry 4.0 roadmap to follow.

  1. Build your budget

Now that your implementation teams are organized and your projects and technologies are planned, it’s time to assemble a 10-year budget. Prepare a comprehensive integrated program budget for each project which includes complete return on investment (ROI), total cost of ownership (TCO) and internal rate of return details.

Ready to take a deeper dive into building your Industry 4.0 strategy? Download our recent webinar: Manufacturing in a Connected World: How to Build a Digital Transformation Strategy.