Fret not. In this article, we’ll define Industry 4.0 and its effect on ecosystems, particularly that of fashion manufacturing units. We’ll reveal the competitive edge you stand to gain in your product life cycle, and lastly, how Zilingo is your gateway to Industry 4.0 and the future.
Before explaining the workings of Industry 4.0, let’s touch on its three predecessors that continue to be the cornerstone of modern industrialisation. The first industrial revolution came about during the late 1700s and early 1800s, as it introduced mechanisation through water and steam-powered engines and tools to aid manual labour.
Fast forward to the 20th century, and the second industrial revolution arrived and brought with it steel and electricity to factory operations. Assembly lines were invented and mass production became the most common means of getting goods to market. Then, just as the 1950s was nearly over, the third industrial revolution began. Computer technology and automation software made their way into factories around the world, and have stayed ever since.
Which brings us to the present day. Industry 4.0 raises the bar on what digital technology can offer by allowing access to real-time data, and introducing interconnectivity between product and people through the Internet, artificial intelligence and machine learning. The nine technologies said to be transforming industrial production are:
1. Big data and analytics
2. The Industrial Internet of Things
3. Horizontal and vertical system integration
5. Additive manufacturing
It’s a fair bit to digest, and for the sake of brevity, we shall only look at what’s pertinent in fashion manufacturing: Big data and analytics, and the Industrial Internet of Things.
You’ve probably experienced this before: Factory production data arrives from multiple sources, in staggering volumes, and at different timings. These variables make it nearly impossible to evaluate the quality of such data, much less generate insights from them. With the push towards big data in Industry 4.0, however, numbers are streamlined, tallied and made available without delay.
The real objective of big data and analytics, however, is harnessing them in the right way quickly to support strategic decision-making. Businesses need to be agile to thrive, and an inability to adjust to the changing winds can make the difference between saving millions of dollars and losing market share.
The Industrial Internet of what?
Yes, the Industrial Internet of Things. We know that computers and the internet aren’t new, so it’s easy to forget that these industry-shaping technologies are still advancing at a pace that outruns previous decades.
Today, computers have the capacity to think beyond what they’ve been programmed to do, and are communicating between themselves in hyper-connected systems without human involvement. We call this artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
By becoming smarter and more autonomous through a constant stream of big data mentioned earlier, computers can share this information with manufacturing owners instantaneously through the cloud. Owners and stakeholders are then enabled to make strategic and executional business decisions that are based on logic rather than emotions.
Together, big data and the Industrial Internet of Things bring about what’s known as smart factories – large scale facilities that are truly efficient and productive.
Is software really the solution?
Definitely. A 2016 Global Industry 4.0 Survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicted a significant increase of digitalization across regions in the next five years, with Asia Pacific noted to have considerable push towards Industry 4.0.
For manufacturers that want to see the largest gains, digitization is and will always be a priority, not an option.
Industry 4.0 sounds too daunting
It really isn’t. The core of Industry 4.0 lies in its ability to pull together the best of digital technology and the real world to create cyber-physical systems that work seamlessly. The physical aspect comprises your factory, manpower and machinery, and all that’s needed now is to embed digital tools into existing infrastructure for Industry 4.0 to be fully adopted.
Enter Zilingo Factory Software, a powerful yet user-friendly enterprise-management system that will take fashion businesses out of a state of flux and into the future.
This enterprise resource planning software unlocks access to real-time production data by empowering workers, managers and factory owners in the production process. Here’s how it works: First, workers input product defects data into tablets conveniently located on the factory floor next to the production line. The software interface uses accessible color-coded buttons that make tagging a cinch. As the number of products that have passed or failed quality checks increase, the software aggregates production output to form big data.
This chunk of data is summarized, analyzed and displayed on a central dashboard on the production line alongside key indicators such as production targets, current progress and operating efficiency. Key personnel can view this summary and make adjustments to improve production flow instantly.
An analytics app then tracks this data over a period of time and automatically generates reports, putting to rest the days of tedious spreadsheet work behind a desk. These reports, directly accessible on any device thanks to cloud computing, produce actionable insights for upper management to make high-level decisions without having to be physically present at the manufacturing facility.
That’s the magic of Industry 4.0 — the ability to track performance, stay ahead of the curve and rely on digital capabilities to deliver insights at speed allows human resources to focus on business and sales strategy, optimisation and expansion with minimum margin of error.
Zilingo Factory Software is designed to be scalable, easy-to-use and mobile-friendly, with manufacturers seeing efficiency improvements in just weeks. Production outputs rise by up to 12%, while defects see a drop of up to 50%. Get started today!