What is Industry 4.0? And how does a supply chain begin to prepare for it? SupplyOn shares their expertise.
Industry 4.0 refers to the vision of a comprehensive networking of all processes in manufacturing: one day, factories should be able to communicate with each other, production processes interwoven intelligently, machines order new supplies automatically and both suppliers and customers be integrated into these processes.
An essential aspect in the successful integration of Industry 4.0 concepts is the digitalization of the supply chain – and precisely this has been SupplyOn’s core skill since the company was founded. For many years, we have been pushing ahead with the networking of companies with the aim of digitizing supply chain processes and abolishing media inconsistencies at company boundaries. In this way, a worldwide network has been created linking more than 30,000 manufacturing companies in the key industries automotive, aerospace, railway and engineering with each other through a central platform. This global supply chain network offers perfect conditions for the implementation of Industry 4.0 concepts!
For SupplyOn, Industry 4.0 begins with a company becoming so networked with its suppliers that processes can be handled electronically throughout – in fact, in both directions. In this phase, the main focus lies on optimizing production planning. The integration of suppliers is based on accurate supplier master data. The seamless order process provides vital information enabling production planning to be optimized and supports all operational demand processes.
In a second step, the logistics service provider is integrated into the system. Of importance here is, firstly, a high degree of transparency in placing transport orders but secondly in obtaining information on the products that are in transit from the supplier to the customer: where are they located, when will they reach their destination and so on. Since this information has a considerable influence on further processing and production, it enables risks and pending bottlenecks to be avoided through timely intervention.
In a third step, the “Things” themselves are integrated into electronic processes. This enables a container, for example, to receive a certain intelligence enabling an unambiguous reference to its contents to be established. With this information, it will be possible for the first time to provide so-called cyber-physical systems in production with up-to-date information on stock replenishment. This brings the vision of a factory that manages itself within easy reach.
Networking divisions and departments in a company – that is vertical integration – and the networking of companies with each other – horizontal integration – represent the indispensable basis of Industry 4.0. Starting from this base numerous ground-breaking scenarios can be realized, such as for examples machines that “know”, due to their actual condition, when the next service has to be carried out and can also “arrange an appointment” for the service quite independently. In implementing scenarios of this sort, SupplyOn not only provides the data highway but also processes and analyses the data and – what is a lot more important – interprets this data and translates it into a relevant business context.
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