Understanding what it means to grow your business is essential. As the next phase of modern manufacturing, Industry 4.0 involves digital connectivity transforming traditional systems through robotic automation, optimization, 3-D printing, big data networking, and other forward-thinking models. While these developments have existed within their own silos, it is only now that they are finding their way into industrial applications, such as glass fabrication. Moving forward, traditional factories and shop floors will be just as “smart” as the phone in your pocket.
Glass Fabrication and Industry 4.0
What does this mean for the glass industry? Quite a lot. Manufacturers are discovering how adapting their systems to the Industry 4.0 model helps them grow faster and drive up innovation, while improving product quality and customer satisfaction. It also demonstrates how communication between yourself and your customers as well as your suppliers is changing.
For example, when was the last time you ordered something over the phone? The way you communicate with your customers, the way they communicate with you, and the way you communicate with your suppliers has evolved due to Industry 4.0, automation, and interconnectivity. This evolution affects how you run your business because effectively configured order-processing solutions benefit both your customers and suppliers.
Industry 4.0’s Impact on Customers
With customers, online purchasing, the ordering process, and warehousing have changed significantly within the last 20 years. Amazon and the effect it has had on customer expectations has trickled down to you, the glass manufacturer. Customers expect a customer-centric system. This influences the ways you interact with customers, when you engage with customers, how you compete for customers, how customers gather and disseminate information, and much more.
In this post-Amazon world, not only does the way customers purchase items change, but so does how you warehouse and ship finished products to your customers. The customer data you receive and analyze can help you determine which finished products you warehouse, your production/lead times, how and when you deliver products, etc. A customer-centric warehousing system allows you to store fewer finished products as well as the needed materials.
Industry 4.0’s Impact on Suppliers
Speaking of needed materials, not only is the relationship between you and the customer affected by Industry 4.0, so is your relationship with your suppliers. How you procure and manage your materials has become more agile and efficient.
Whether it is the online purchasing, the ordering process, warehousing of materials and finished inventory, or the procurement and management of materials, Industry 4.0 is empowering glass factories. This empowerment allows you to be more efficient, track and trace orders, and provide visibility into the production process as well as save money and time.
Some Advantages of Industry 4.0:
- Reduces errors by customers and employees
- Allows you to do more with less staff
- Improves response times for customers
- Improves safety for factory workers
- Just-in-time (JIT) warehousing of materials
- Offers transparency for the manufacturer, customer, and supplier
- Makes customized orders easy
- Provides mobile access for real-time monitoring and communication
- Ability to make changes or avert breakdowns during the manufacturing process
So, when implementing Industry 4.0 in your facility, turn to a trusted software company with years of experience implementing Industry 4.0 in glass facilities. Also check out a previous A+W article about glass fabrication and Industry 4.0.