When we hear the terms “Industry 4.0” and “digitalization,” we imagine fully automated, lifeless factories churning out products in a lights-out kind of manufacturing environment. The reality, however, is far from that image. The digital transformation of any enterprise is more like a journey than a step change, and achieving such a transformation is only possible through the empowerment of an organization’s number one resource: its workers.
The modern workforce is shaping up to be very different from the traditional understanding of a workforce and how it should function. The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be an inflection point for the reconfiguration of the modern manufacturing frontline paradigm. Disrupted supply chains, lack of external support on the shop floor, and the absence of specialized and task-oriented workers all changed the core perception of how a typical manufacturing workforce should operate. The pandemic made it clear that manufacturers need to empower their workforces and use the best possible digital means to do so.
Unplanned downtime is the single biggest enemy of productivity.
Forbes estimates the cost of downtime alone is over $50 billion each year for industrial manufacturers. This is more than substantial and can often be the difference between a company making or losing money. The article points toward predictive maintenance gaining prominence to significantly reduce downtime, to learn faster and predict failures long before stoppages can ever happen.