Manufacturing 4.0? Industry 4.0? It’s all digital manufacturing to me

I recently attended the Manufacturers Leadership Summit hosted by Frost & Sullivan in LA. This three-day event was full of presentations, case studies and discussions on the journey to Manufacturing 4.0. I thought I’d share a few pointers from the show on how leading enterprises are finding success through digital manufacturing.

The Manufacturing Leadership Summit is the flagship event of Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturers Leadership Council, a community of manufacturing CxOs who work together to identify and collaborate on critical issues and challenges facing their businesses.

The summit was a great opportunity to mix with leading executives and this year all the talk was about Manufacturing 4.0.

Whatever term you use – Manufacturing 4.0, Industry 4.0, connected or digital manufacturing – you’re essentially describing the use of digital technologies to transform your operations and customer experience.

Reaping the benefits of digital manufacturing

This year demonstrated just how far we’ve move towards realizing the benefits of digital manufacturing. Excellent presentations examined how digital technologies are transforming every part of a manufacturer’s business. The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) came up with the pithy phrase ‘make every part better than the last’ which neatly summed up the goal of attendees as they discussed key issues, including:

  • The disruptive technologies that are shaping digital manufacturing, such as cybersecurity, Blockchain and AI
  • The latest trends in smart manufacturing
  • The skills and culture needed to achieve digital transformation in manufacturing
  • The role of communication and collaboration in Manufacturing 4.0 success
  • The transition from asset-driven to service-oriented production

I thought I’d share some high level pointers that I picked up at the Summit on how to make the most of your journey into digital manufacturing:

  • Be a strategic enabler that looks beyond your role, department or, even, organization
  • Devise your priorities based on business value and not technology readiness
  • Senior executives should be more than sponsors. They should be involved at a much richer level
  • Prepare for radical change and don’t be afraid to experiment
  • Data is your business, not just a business enabler. Treat it as such.
  • Digital manufacturing requires new ways of working. Your staff have to be ready
  • New job titles are appearing all the time. You must ensure you have access to the right skills and resource

What struck me when listening to the speakers and chatting with the delegates, was just how closely aligned their thinking was with my own. The presentations and our conversations quickly turned to one or more of the nine key components of digital manufacturing set out in OpenText’s new Digital Manufacturing eBook.

Figure 1: Components of a Digital Manufacturing Business

OpenText will be at next month’s Best Practices for Automotive event in Detroit – held by our partner SAP – where digital manufacturing will be a key topic.

Detroit is also be playing host to the OpenText Automotive User Group in October, if you’re interesting in attending please email me for more details.

Tom Leeson

Tom is Industry Marketing Strategist for the Manufacturing Sector globally. An Engineer by Trade, and Mathematician by Education, Tom’s entire career has been spent in Engineering, Manufacturing and IT helping customers digitally transform their business and their manufacturing sector. With Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things, Manufacturing lives in exciting times, so there is much to talk about.

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