Industry 4.0 implies the digitization of manufacturing via connected networks of humans and robots interacting and working together that promotes information sharing and analysis along the full global value chains. With the adoption of more efficient and faster production systems and innovative technologies, companies can significantly improve their competitive position, value creation and minimize risks. Among the main envisaged benefits are shorter operations cycle times, quick delivery times, faster time to market of new products and services, improved quality, and product/service customization, while involving the consumer in a more proactive and intense way. They can address new and emerging markets by a differentiation strategy, or even create new disruptive business models.
The digitization of processes, business, supply networks, and goods permit companies to syndicate learnings from people, technologies, analytics, and predictive insights to hopefully make better, more all-inclusive decisions. Fully linked procedures present enormous opportunities: Rather than nursing processes in a linear fashion, as has always been done, and operating reactively, companies can take learnings along the way and feed them back into the process, learn from what they are seeing, and adjust accordingly in real or near real-time. This will lead to better decisions, better-designed products, services and systems, potentially more efficient use of resources, and a greater ability to predict future needs.
Industry 4.0 is categorized by the merger of the physical and digital worlds—a force that has pulled up that anchor and spread the potential for value creation to other product-centric functions, and indeed to the entire enterprise. To tap that possibility, creators need to invest in combined digitalization of procedures and process data. The digital thread represents one such end-to-end Industry 4.0 solution, linking the entire design and production process with a seamless strand of data that stretches from the initial design concept to the finished part. Beyond the digital thread, the use of the digital twin can enable organizations to gain insights into the inner workings of systems or facilities, simulate possible scenarios, and understand the impact of changes in one node on the rest of the network.
The marriage of digital and physical technologies would affect how customers, consumers, employees, and other parts of the business landscape expect to experience and interact with an organization. For their part, organizations that focus on the production and movement of information—such as finance, energy, technology, and health care—would face many of the same considerations as those that focus on the production and movement of physical goods: how to use information from connected systems to drive better products and services, customer experiences, and connections with vendors and other stakeholders.