Solving Real-World Manufacturing Problems with Industry 4.0 Solutions

Solving Real-World Manufacturing Problems with Industry 4.0 Solutions

There are lots of technologies today that are nice-to-have: Heated car seats in the winter, smart refrigerators that let you know when you’re running low on milk, and streaming services that entertain us at home and on the go.

But when it comes to solving real-world problems on the factory floor, Industry 4.0 technologies are a must-have. Industry 4.0 connects people, machines, sensors and devices in new ways, making it easier to track supply chain activity, generate optimal plans, and execute those plans to improve efficiency and productivity.

The search for efficiencies

To get a better understanding of how Industry 4.0 digital tools can help manufacturers, consider the case of a Tier 1 automotive supplier facing an increase in demand coupled with a growing number of product variants—but with limited resources to effectively address these challenges. Their already-complex production and supply streams meant that any number of unexpected occurrences—such as equipment breakdowns, quality spills or raw material shortages—could lead to missed customer deliveries or expensive expedited shipments. The supplier was looking for a way to increase efficiency, better utilize resources and minimize the need for physical inventory space.

Industry 4.0 to the rescue

It was clear the supplier could benefit from agile planning and scheduling systems that help manufacturers anticipate resource needs and maximize efficient use of materials, people and machines. Working with their solutions provider, the supplier began mapping its processes to determine how long it takes to move through each stage of production: from raw goods to inventory to the production floor, then from finished product into trucks for shipping. The goal was to gain a comprehensive overview of the entire value chain and deploy production planning solutions that make it possible to better align demand and capacity.

Demand capacity management is all about utilizing the right resources in the right way at the right time to align real and expected demand with a facility’s throughput. Planners have historically had to rely on past demand to shape their production forecasts, which can often lead to bottlenecks and disruptions when unexpected circumstances occur.

Better data, better forecasting

A robust demand capacity planning workflow can help to mitigate the potential ill-effects of an operational gap between demand and actual capacity.  With a clear view of how production flows in real-time, agile digital planning solutions can actually provide the insight needed to minimize downtime and maximize throughput under unusual sourcing conditions.

For example, once the Tier 1 automotive supplier’s demand and inventory systems were integrated, they were able to more easily make production order and demand adjustments, align machines and other resources, and more effectively prioritize tool allocation, among other efficiencies.

The proof is in the metrics

Once Industry 4.0 solutions were fully deployed, the Tier 1 supplier was able to better manage, analyze, and evaluate all data including demand, inventory targets and scheduling results for improved real-time decision-making. The successful launch resulted in 100 percent customer on-time delivery and a 50 percent reduction in set-up time and changeovers. The supplier was also able to achieve optimal inventory levels, avoided production delays and eliminate the need to expedite customer shipments. Demand capacity management solutions helped them drive an increased level of end-to-end (E2E) visibility across all touch points on their supply chain. 

As supply chains become more complex, today’s manufacturers need powerful tools to anticipate resource needs and make the most efficient use of materials, people and machines. By putting Industry 4.0’s digital tools in the toolbox, supply chain managers are equipped with the “must have” technologies they need to solve productivity and efficiency challenges.


If you want to learn more get your Guide to Transformation of Manufacturing Processes

In this Guide you will learn:

  1. Emerging challenges in the modern automotive industry

  2. How global OEMs can adapt to new realities

  3. How decentralized digital systems power smarter planning processes

  4. How flexis can support flexible supply chain transformation