Are businesses really ready for Industry 4.0?

20th November 2017
Posted By : Joe Bush
Are businesses really ready for Industry 4.0?

A collaborative research project between Crimson & Co, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and Pinsent Masons, has urged that most businesses still need to undertake work around business strategy, technological investment and digital culture and skills, in order for them to be IoT-ready.

Many business leaders are making the right noises with regards to Industry 4.0, however, the study, based on a survey of 53 senior managers and executives, across 22 countries and 15 sectors, has been conducted to determine how prepared organisations are when it comes to embracing the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The report itself contains a new Industry 4.0 readiness assessment tool designed to help businesses understand how prepared they are to adopt Industry 4.0, and turn it into a way of life. The tool assesses six core dimensions, Products and services; Manufacturing and operations; Strategy and organisation; Supply chain; Business model and Legal considerations.

Within these dimensions, businesses are then graded across four levels of readiness (beginner, intermediate, experienced and expert), allowing them to understand their current readiness, and what they will need to do to close these gaps. Core findings within this revealed:

  • Strategy and Organisation has the lowest maturity of all areas in the survey with the majority of respondents operating at a beginner or intermediate level, indicating a huge disconnect between how senior leadership perceives its readiness for Industry 4.0 against the actual realities of the business.
  • The challenges of the Strategy and Organisation dimensions came from an apparent lack of digital culture and skills existing across these organisations.
  • Further shortcomings were seen amongst Supply Chain Integration processes, driven by a failure to share timely and complete demand, capacity, inventory and operational performance information with suppliers and customers.
  • Manufacturing and Operations ranked as the second lowest dimension for organisation readiness with key findings highlighting that firms were failing to harness the power of technology and data collection, therefore stunting their Industry 4.0 readiness.
  • When assessing an organisation’s Business Model, the information captured suggested that most firms operated at a beginner and intermediate level, highlighting that existing IT tools and data are often insufficiently developed to support quality data driven decisions, with the majority of companies still unable to track products, or adjust scheduling decisions, in real time.

Jonathan Gibson, Associate Director, from Crimson & Co commented on these findings: “Increasingly we are seeing a lot of organisations discussing digital transformation, particularly at a senior leadership level, with firms keen to streamline processes, drive greater efficiencies, improve and accelerate decision making, and expand business reach. Industry 4.0 is very much part of this conversation, but in reality, our findings show that actual readiness is quite some distance away for a lot of firms.

“It appears that many companies believe investment in IT and advanced technology will drive and sustain change, but the key is actually to ensure that the correct skills and culture exist to drive this transformation. There will need to be significant change in day-to-day capabilities and behaviours from what currently exists.

“The correct people skills, supported by strong visible leadership, and backed up by internal KPIs that drive the right behaviours accelerate the adoption of intelligent processes through the organisation, allowing the business to make decisions from which it will benefit from adopting Industry 4.0.

“Externally, it is essential to build trust across all partners in the supply chain to facilitate information sharing. This requires all parties to recognise the benefit to them of adopting these working practices, and also to be convinced that being open with the information they share will not be used against them, when it comes to negotiating prices by the more dominant customers and suppliers. This requires a major move from the adversarial nature of relationships that so often prevails today. By doing this, organisations will then have taken a giant stride to becoming Industry 4.0 ready.”

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