Industry 4.0 - is the manufacturing sector ready?

By Nell Walker
The fourth industrial revolution is a concept the entire manufacturing industry is working towards preparing for – but what does it entail, and how re...

The fourth industrial revolution is a concept the entire manufacturing industry is working towards preparing for – but what does it entail, and how ready are businesses?

Industry 4.0 is expected to enable internal improvements and production innovation across the industry. According to Sapio Research, on behalf of Zetes, bridging the gap between the state of manufacturing now and the operational objectives may be a long way off.

The research suggests that only 29% of manufacturers admit to truly understanding what having a digital supply chain network is, and less than 15% of the respondents have implemented a digital supply network and expect it to become the norm for the company in the next five years. The biggest challenge, it seems, is the lack of information visibility, which damages the chances of an organisation being able to access relevant insight in real-time.

80% of manufacturers involved in the survey state that securing meaningful intelligence from their supply chains is a challenge, and 75% believe dealing with real-time information and the ability to handle the intelligence are also significant hurdles.

Other key highlights from the manufacturing research include:

  • Over half (59%) do not have real-time visibility of stock levels within the organisation;
  • 65% do not have real-time view of suppliers’ manufacturing schedules;
  • 68% do not have a real-time view of manufacturing volumes across plants within the organisation;
  • Only a third of manufacturers are able to aggregate information across the supply chain
  • Despite the rise in the Internet of Things (IoT) and aspiration of digital supply networks, organisational effectiveness is still reliant on date communications including telephone, fax and email to share critical information

Although 89% of manufactures involved in the study believe a single view of end-to-end supply chain operations is key, only 30% actually have this level of visibility. The next year will be a crucial time for businesses to achieve positive change. There is an intense need for agility, collaboration, and real-time information, as well as empowering management to take the necessary decisions.

Sébastien Sliski, General Manager Supply Chain Solutions at Zetes comments: “Manufacturers know that across the industry there needs to be greater focus on speed, accuracy and agility within the end-to-end supply chain, if they are to remain competitive and achieve the nirvana of Industry 4.0.The only way they are going to be able to reach such heights is to optimise processes between legacy and new systems as well as providing key stakeholders with meaningful insight from real-time data sources.

“Connecting different internal and external silos and harmonising that data is pivotal to making valid comparisons and supporting intelligent decision-making. The pressure is on; but once manufacturers begin to make small changes within the supply chain, and become more proactive, they will be in a better position to become fully immersed in Industry 4.0 and can start reaping the benefits it will bring to both their business and customers.”


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