Complying with technological concepts requires investments and changes that go beyond a simple manufacturing plant integration.
Advantages of integration and automation of machines, which is typically part of Industry 4.0 implementation, can be achieved by any company regardless of their segment or size. Different from what we can realize, technologies that are intended to integrate physical and digital aspects are also applicable to small and medium-size enterprises.
As in big industries, complying with Industry 4.0 demands investments and revolution in order to get to a superior technological level, including essential changes on how to manage the business. In other words, this implementation process affects all sectors within the manufacturing chain, even the customers, who start becoming part of the company´s production process by demanding customized products.
As an example, a few smaller companies in Brazil have already started the digital manufacturing process focused on increase of productivity. This initiative is still slow but progressing gradually, and, according to experts’ point of view, this will tell which companies will remain competitive in the market.
How small and medium-sized companies can comply with Industry 4.0 in their organization?
Implement production automation, both in the manufacturing processes and on the supply chain development;
Set up an interconnection of all sensors, actuators and systems within the plant, even when these devices come from different suppliers;
Implement a process virtualization that allows transfer of data collected from operating equipment and products to the cloud for further simulations;
Follow up the production in real time since the data are analyzed at the moment they are collected;
Implement modular systems of equipment and production lines, allowing production adjustment in real time;
Decentralize production processes, with real-time decision making on manufacture and production processes.
Migrate to Industry 4.0 can be done gradually and in different ways depending on availability of resources and expected results. Anyway, using monitoring sensors, retrofitting equipment and integrating indicators on a single basis are true examples of initiatives that allow small and medium-sized enterprises to come closer to the fourth industrial revolution.