Steam power. Henry Ford’s assembly line. Proliferation of coal-based energy. These developments in the evolution of manufacturing fundamentally changed how goods were produced and the way in which manufacturers moved products from the factory to the customer. If these were truly disruptive forces in the industrial economy, today’s producers are currently experiencing just as seismic a change in production processes in the form of Industry 4.0.
Most commonly defined as the movement of the industrial sphere to a more integrated, digital method of managing production and supply processes, Industry 4.0 is built upon the concepts of end-to-end (E2E) visibility, agility, and efficiency across each touch point in the value chain. Given the variant-rich nature of today’s manufacturing landscape, Industry 4.0 answers a common question for today’s manufacturers: How do I reduce overall operational costs while still being nimble enough to respond to unforeseen changes in planning or production programs?