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The fourth industrial revolution: How can factories keep up in the digital era?

Written by Latifa Yedroudj on Wednesday, 13 November 2019. Posted in Innovation, Technology

The way we produce goods has transformed in our digitalised world. So much so that manufacturing companies are calling it the fourth industrial revolution, also known as “Industry 4.0”.

The fourth industrial revolution: How can factories keep up in the digital era?

The way we produce goods has transformed in our digitalised world. So much so that manufacturing companies are calling it the fourth industrial revolution, also known as “Industry 4.0”. With new digitally savvy factories on the rise, how will older factories keep up? One company believes they have the solution.

Incorporating old with the new can prove challenging. Business owners would have to find ways to install complex systems into older factory builds. This task can be daunting, as it would take two niche teams to develop hardware and software, creating a joint system driven by data and smart connectivity.

Advantech has now come up with a semi-bespoke solution by integrating hardware and software, enabling legacy factories to become more efficient and increase productivity in the long-run.

“Advantech is a world leader in providing Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) hardware for gathering data from equipment and controlling it with thousands of products,” Jash Bansidhar, Associate Vice President of Industrial IoT at Advantech Europe, explained.

The technology firm prides in its inexpensive approach to upgrading factory systems, combining both hardware and software in order to cut unnecessary costs in purchasing them separately.

“This is the profit centre in our business model. In a rival multi-vendor solution, the control software for the hardware is a second profit centre as for the software vendor as it is their only source of income,” Mr Bansidhar added. “For us, our control software is not a profit centre as we view it as an enabler for the sales of our hardware so we dramatically reduce that cost element to give a lower, total cost solution.”

Advantech’s Industry 4.0 upgrade solution consists of two parts – WISE-Pass is a software control platform interfaces with and controls equipment. On top of this sits the application specific software, provided by one of Advantech’s partners with specialist knowledge and experience. Advantech partners with over 50 companies that provide Solution Ready Packages (SRPs) all preconfigured for each company’s use.

“Our unique co-creation model of partnering with SRP providers means that we can provide a completed, tailored solution for upgrading to Industry 4.0 almost off the shelf,” explained Mr Bansidhar. “We don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time. Every aspect of the hardware and software as already been field tested and is mutually compatible so implementation is very fast. Our one-stop shop approach provides a smooth, easy upgrade path to a more profitable, smart factory as we oversee every aspect of the project to reduce the risk and costs.”

Advantech has pioneered their Industry 4.0 upgrade solution in their own factories. Throughout the trials, they found significant improvements in productivity improvements along with reductions in energy costs, which helped bring an even faster return on investment.

“We saw the possible benefits of upgrading to Industry 4.0 in our own factories and also saw how challenging this could potentially be,” Mr Bansidhar added. “Implementing something like this for the first time always throws up unexpected challenges but, by doing it first for our own factories, we have first-hand experience of solving them so that implementations for customers run smoothly.” 

We are now in the midst of a significant transformation into the way businesses are run, which starts from the manufacturing of goods. It is essential that factories switch to smart systems by upgrading their existing technologies in order to keep up with the digital revolution.

About the Author

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj has joined the Elite team to fully immerse herself in the business side of journalism, a strong passion of hers cultivated from young having co-run her mother's start up business since she was 18. Her interests lie in a wide range of subjects, including start ups, business, travel, and anything entrepreneurial she can get her hands on. She has worked for some of the biggest names in journalism including The Guardian and The Mirror. Follow her on @latifayed on Twitter for her latest journo rants.

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