In 2020, is a Lean Industry 4.0 a Manufacturing Revolution or Evolution?

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Founded over a decade ago in 2009, the Lean Transition Solutions Ltd team is based across both the UK and India and delivers software solutions for multiple industries, from the service sector to the manufacturing industry.

In the first of three pieces looking at Lean Industry 4.0, Made in the Midlands sits down with Brett Griffiths, founder of both Lean Transition Solutions (LTS) (UK & India) and Your Career Academy (YCA) to discuss what impact Industry 4.0 will have on the manufacturing sector.

In the first discussion, we look at what's holding back adoption of industry 4.0 in the manufacturing industry, and what action you and your company need to take to be ready for the upcoming decade.

I want to start by asking you a question, do you know what Industry 4.0 is? More so, do you know how it relates to the Manufacturing industry and what, if utilised properly, it could do for the industry? This was the first question I proposed to Brett; What can Industry 4.0 do for Manufacturing?

In terms of what Industry 4.0 is, according to Brett, "Industry 4.0 can connect devices across multiple protocols and standards, merge data streams, and optimise acquired data for relevancy and context. It can also improve industrial operations, enhance enterprise workspaces and connect devices across wide areas."

It's during our discussion of the definition where the unique position and selling point of LTS come into play. "Together, our systems and Industry 4.0 can Increase production uptime and reduce operational risks. While the Internet of Things (IoT) for industries enables organisations to collect and analyse data from connected assets, people and places to deliver actionable insights in an industrial environment."

'Our' systems include a range of products covered by LTS, including Janus, an Industry 4.0 Automated shop-floor data capture system, which is self-labelled as the 'First step into Industry 4.0.'

I asked Brett how a product like Janus complies with the definition of Industry 4.0. In his own words, "With the deployment of Janus, a company will gain higher productivity due to the living monitoring and analysis of data and because the way stocks can be reduced, personnel planning improved, logistics optimised and complexity and maintenance costs get lowered. Furthermore, an increase in product quality can be expected, alongside more flexible manufacturing options."

The chances are if you're reading this, then you're involved in the manufacturing sector, which is where my next point comes into play, what are the significant barriers for the manufacturing industry when it comes to adopting 4.0 practices?

A lack of a digital strategy, coupled with resource scarcity, leadership, and training were pinned by Brett as being the three significant challenges for SMEs when looking to move towards an Industry 4.0 output.

In terms of a company having a digital strategy, "Many people at senior level or on tactics and day-to-day operations, in some cases fail to work at a strategic level."

However, this point begins to pave the way for a catch-22 issue. The second issue, leadership, focuses on the leadership within a company having the skill set to deliver the forebode point of digital strategy. "We call it Leadership 4.0, which focuses on understanding Technology, Operational Excellence and People Development enabling managers, supervisors and Team Leaders to have the skills to deliver an Industry 4.0 strategy."

But to summarise both of these points under one umbrella issue, the term training comes to mind, at least in terms of Brett's third barrier. "The training of operators with specific skills in managing digital jobs and engaging workers with new technology and changes to their job."

All of these points relate strongly to when Brett said, "Companies need to adapt to the ever-changing environment of the manufacturing landscape. We have adopted a Bite-Sized approach to industry 4.0 to help companies "dip their toe in the water" so to speak."

Yet all these barriers are something that Brett and his colleagues bring to the forefront of the services offered by Lean Transition Solutions. "Companies need to adapt to the ever-changing environment of the manufacturing landscape."

One way that Lean Transition Solutions does this, is with Brett's other brainchild, Your Career Academy (YCA) which is a learning management sytem. Linking it back to industry 4.0, Brett explained that it's not just about installing the systems within a company, it's equally about developing the skills of your workforce. "To enrich people's creativity and innovation, we have Your Career Academy (YCA). You need to develop people to get the best from your Industry 4.0 systems. Installing new technology alone will not generate the benefits required in the future global marketplace."

Which is a philosophy offered through Lean Transition Solutions in the form of a service they offer called Leadership 4.0, "Which helps people to adapt to the new industrial environment, where they will learn how to handle the future technology changes in manufacturing."

With the new decade now in full swing, I asked Brett what the next ten years will look like, and in his own words, "The next ten years will be very fast paced as more technologically proficient people enter the workplace at senior levels."

"With more companies adapting Industry 4.0, different technologies will join together to enable more effective ways to improve manufacturing systems and management. With the implementation of new technologies in manufacturing environments, the amount of data will double every couple of years, which results in a large quantity of raw data."

Something that is coupled by a recent Forbes article that states in 2018, we had 33 zettabytes of data in the world, the equivalent of 33 trillion gigabytes, or over 128 billion iPhones with 256gb of storage. Now the same article predicts by the middle of this decade, 2025, that number will rise 137% to 175 zettabytes, or 175 trillion gigabytes - or over 678 billion iPhones.

But with that amount of data comes new challenges and new tools that they must use. "Organisations will use more algorithms and software tools; various types of data sets will be collected and extracted from the different layers in the manufacturing environment, enabling far greater connected systems."

Yet as we go further into the 2020s, Brett believes that this will lead to the development of a concept known as Business Intelligent Systems. "With the constant expansion and development of new technologies as well as an enlargement of data, the complexity of problems is increasing in industry. This will lead to the generation of Business Intelligent Systems."

"The business intelligent systems (BIS) present systems capable of providing efficient decisions making in real applications. BIS is based on two major approaches – artificial intelligence and soft computing which include a variety of different techniques, such as genetic algorithms and genetic programming. All of these techniques operate together to improve strategic decision making and ensure flexible processing abilities of data and information for dealing with real-world situations."

But how will all of these different elements working in unison benefit manufacturers? "Looking at how that will benefit organisations, in comparison with the conventional systems, the business intelligent system will provide a competitive advantage. The difference between business intelligent systems and conventional systems is reflected where BIS emphasise the simulation of intelligent behaviours using computing devices or software systems, and conventional systems execute the operations that people have set with the lack of any signs of intelligent behaviour."

This is the first of a three-part look in Lean Transition Solutions. Over the next month, we'll be checking back with the company for an in-depth look at Taking a hybrid approach to Industry 4.0 in Manufacturing and at their cloud-based learning platform, Your Career Academy (YCA).

In the meantime, you can check-out Lean Transition Solutions microsite here, follow them on social media - Twitter and LinkedIn - and check out more about their Your Career Academy (YCA) over on its dedicated website.

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