What IROs need to know about Industry 4.0
Zaid Gulraiz, Industry 4.0 (i4.0) specialist at Berwick Partners, explains the term and gives an insight into its impact on companies and IROs
This article was produced by ELITE Connect and originally published on the ELITE Connect platform
In a nutshell, what is Industry 4.0?
Zaid Gulraiz: Industry 4.0, fourth industrial revolution, industrial internet, smart manufacturing, factories of the future: these are all names of a vision enabled by technologies such as additive manufacturing (AM), blockchain, cloud, internet of things, machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics. It can be viewed as the digital transformation of the manufacturing industry, although Industry 4.0 has applications and interest from many verticals.
What impact does Industry 4.0 have on corporates globally? What should IROs know about the topic for their investor meetings?
ZG: Industry 4.0 saw some early signs of maturity in 2017, with analytics and big data being at the fore of early adoption. But the uptake has been isolated and occasionally ad hoc – therefore not actualizing the gargantuan leap in productivity, flexibility and quality it offers.
There are a few reasons for this. For example, many companies are inhibited by the capital required to transition. Industry 4.0 ranks high in the minds of senior management, but there is still work to be done on defining a strategy, conducting pilot studies and convincing stakeholders on the need for change.
Do you feel investors are taking an increasing interest in Industry 4.0?
ZG: It’s now three months since the British IT investment firm OnLine saw its share price rocket after simply adding blockchain to its name. There is agreement that some companies will be early adopters of the technologies enabling this transformation, and some will be left behind and unable to compete. For example, within precision manufacturing, AM for production is understood to be the future of (and is already widely used for) prototyping, enabling a fail-fast modus operandi.
What do you think the future holds for Industry 4.0?
ZG: We’re seeing the move from volume, mass-produced goods to personalized, on-demand products for an exigent, digitally savvy customer base. Key benefits of i4.0 are increased productivity, agility, customer centricity and the development of new revenue streams and operating models.
What else should we be thinking about?
ZG: The impact on the talent landscape is interesting. Consider the rise of the gig economy, for example – businesses now have access to scalable, on-demand talent that allows them to create an augmented workforce. Despite the hysteria around factories of the future, executives are confident that workforces will be upskilled, with numbers reduced at lower-skilled levels.