The pace of change in the world at present is unprecedented with such things as AI, Cloud Computing, IoT and Robotics .
.\With such change comes changes to operations in organisations as well and they must continually redesign their processes to reflect changes in technology. The term for this is Industry 4.0 which was apparently coined by the German government in 2011.
What is Industry 4.0?
Goods were previously made in home environments, however, since the early 18th century the world has seen four industrial revolutions that have transformed how work is done and how products are produced. It is considered by the World Economic Forum that we are currently in the fourth revolution. Hence Industry 4.0.
Supportive and Core technologies
It is considered that there are three core technologies around Industry 4.0. These core technologies are adaptive robots, cyber-physical infrastructure, and additive manufacturing.
Attempts at creating robots have been going on since 1930. Robots have been developing since that time but Industry 4.0 has seen incredible advancements as machines incorporate AI.
Demonstration of Google Duplex using AI calling and making appointments for people.
Additive manufacturing is the second core technology of Industry 4.0. This technology is based on the 3D printing of parts and products.
One of the beauties of additive manufacturing is that three dimensional printing can actually make a part that may be made up of several different parts. This can considerable reduce manufacturing costs and assembly times. Additive manufacturing is still in its infancy from a commercial standpoint.
Great video from TEDx on 3D printing.
Cyber Physical Infrastructure
CPI is also known as the Internet of Things (IoT). The Internet of Things is distinct from the internet of people because it links things or machines to perform a process. A phone connected to an air conditioner at home, a fridge that orders from the supermarket. These are examples of IoT.
Maturity and Readiness model for Industry 4.0
Operations can be regarded as a source for competitive advantage for organisations. Refine your operations and your competitiveness will improve. The utilisation of Industry 4.0 technology can be a method of improving operations. The digitalisation process however can be a challenge. Senior people in the organisation may not be aware of the rapidity of change and in turn not prepared to make the investment when they do learn more. It is also possible that they will have difficulty reconciling the impact of digitalisation on people and culture which is certainly worth consideration.
Technology Roadmap for Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 is still in the early stages despite us being in its midst and few organisations would have reached the last stage of the maturity model. The reason for this is the number of challenges for organisations as outlined by Sarvari et al. (2018, p. 97).
The challenges for Industry 4.0 transformation are determined as:
- lack of knowledge about technologies and opportunities
- uncertainty about the benefits that new technologies may bring to the company
- lack of knowledge about customer demand regarding new products and business models under an industry 4.0 vision
- limited human and financial resources
- difficulty in spotting the starting point and milestones of the planning horizon
- requirements for the prioritisation and scheduling of new product and process projects
- allocating the limited resources to the projects and collaborating with reliable partners
- lack of communication about the benefits of the industry 4.0 transformation projects throughout the organisation.
The assessment has been completed and is ready to submit. Despite being through the process analysis and re-design, it is a little uncomfortable with the outcomes from that process. The focus has been on the re-design of the process to improve aspects and also the risk and resilience of the organisation. As mentioned previously, it was virtually impossible to come up with two specific recommendations for improvement. Any professional person reading the report would have identified several possible areas that could have been addressed. In the assessment, this has been covered by stating that it would be remiss not to mention several recommendations and not just two. It can then be left to the Board to determine priorities. Hopefully, this will be accepted by the people marking the assignment.
In the commercial world, you underpromise and overdeliver. This has been done in the assessment and it can only be hoped it is recognised.
Operations Management has been a fascinating subject. It is enormously broad and underpins so many responsibilities of management in an organisation. I found the theory particularly interesting and extremely diverse in its depth and coverage of many issues an organisation may face. The separation of operations and governance is still shrouded in some mystery from a Board perspective however because if the operations people are not delivering, then the Board has to provide guidance or the organisation may fail. Finding the balance will be crucial to running a successful and achieving organisation.References
- Module 7: Operations transformation: industry 4.0 and digitalisation: Introduction 2022, Aib.edu.au, viewed 24 August 2022, <https://learning.aib.edu.au/mod/book/view.php?id=111314>
- Sarvari, P, Ustundag, A, Cevikcan, A, Kaya, I & Cebi, S 2018, ‘Technology roadmap for industry 4.0‘, in A Ustundag & A Cevikcan (eds), Industry 4.0: Managing the digital transformation, https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.aib.idm.oclc.org/lib/aibus/reader.action?docID=5047828&ppg=110 edn, Springer, Heidelberg