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Should a Shop Floor Manager Care About Industry 4.0?

6/8/22 10:00 AM


A buzzword that’s important for business

If you are like me when you first heard the term Industry 4.0, you probably said “I didn’t know we had an Industry 1, 2, and 3.0!” The technology world loves its buzzwords, but I don’t mean to be dismissive of it because Industry 4.0 is something that we at Visual South are involved in every day. Let’s start by explaining Industry 4.0 and then talk about what it means to a manufacturing company.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is essentially the fourth industrial revolution. The original industrial revolution was when mechanization and water/steam power came into use to solve problems and drive energy and efficiency. The second industrial revolution brought electricity to mass production and assembly lines. The third industrial revolution brought computers and automation solutions to help solve business problems. And, as you may imagine, the fourth is building on the third—it does so with artificial intelligence and better use of data.

What does Industry 4.0 mean for my company?

Industry 4.0 is something that almost every manufacturing company is experiencing daily, despite where they sit on the spectrum of technology sophistication. Here at Visual South, our goal is to meet our clients “where they are.” Some companies are transitioning from using spreadsheets to an ERP. Others have been using ERP for 20 years and are looking to improve through better use of data, or find solutions to drive more efficiency than the ERP platform can alone. In both of these examples, companies are using technology to solve a business problem, but they are at different points in their journey.

So…should a shop floor manager care about Industry 4.0?

The simple answer is yes. I would even argue that every shop floor manager already does! They are typically looking for ways to capture data, manage capacity, control inventory, understand costs and variances, improve on-time delivery, provide accurate promise dates, and so on. These challenges exist regardless of which technology is being used to manage the business. Typically, a manufacturer’s biggest problem is how the technology is NOT helping. In fact, it can often be contributing to the challenges. That is why ERP solutions exist. They provide manufacturing companies with a platform to manage all aspects of their business in a single, integrated platform. Implementing an ERP solution deploys technology to support the “blocking and tackling” of manufacturing.

Related: 6 Shop Floor Management Techniques Learned from 30 Years of Experience 

Companies that already have an ERP in place are typically looking for ways to make it better by refining processes, deploying new functionality and features, and exploiting the ERP’s data source. They may also be looking at integrating best-of-breed applications into their ERP, like supply chain optimization solutions, data analytics solutions, business intelligence solutions, or all of the above. Achieving these priorities is all part of what I would consider Industry 4.0.      

We can guide you

Industry 4.0 is the age we’re all living in, whether we know it or not. Visual South prides itself on understanding our customers’ needs, providing practical solutions with transparent advice to help them achieve success no matter how advanced they are in their technology journey. We typically work with companies that manufacture something. These companies are experts in their product, but not experts in implementing ERP. That is why they come to us. Our team can guide you through a successful implementation of ERP solutions for your company, and be a valued resource for years to come.

If you are looking for ERP and not sure where to start, how about talking to an expert who is not a sales person? Click here to learn more about Jack Shannon, and sign up for a free phone consultation to discuss your situation.

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Bryan Foshee

Written by Bryan Foshee

Bryan is a Regional Manager at Visual South and has been working with the company since 2002. Prior to that, he was a consultant and implemented SAP in manufacturing, distribution, and service industries.