How much do you know about Industry 4.0?
Is it about automated factories where robots do the work? Well, not quite. Without data collection and analysis, such a system cannot be called Industry 4.0.
At the core of Industry 4.0 is data. Through Internet of Things (IoT) technology, data from every step of the whole production cycle, from order placement to procurement, production to shipment, can be collected and analyzed in real time. Resources and production schedules are then adjusted constantly to achieve the goal of producing high-quality products efficiently and at low cost.
Is Industry 4.0 still far away? Not really. This new industrial revolution is already imminent.
Many factories engaged in OEM or ODM business have received inquiries about Industry 4.0 over the last couple of years, according to the Hong Kong Productivity Council.
Their customers want to understand how much they know about it, such as their knowledge about smart factory, smart data, IoT, etc.
Clients also ask if the production and testing equipment of these Hong Kong manufacturers have internet connections, or whether their enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems can be connected.
Smart manufacturing is becoming the new norm. It’s not a matter whether you want to upgrade or not; you have to.
Made in China 2015 has been adopted as a national strategy. Provincial and municipal governments across the country are encouraging companies to use technology for innovation and upgrade.
Hong Kong companies should capture this opportunity to transform their businesses.
Currently, companies still lack a deep understanding of Industry 4.0. They are hesitant to invest heavily in related equipment, software and human training.
No matter what sector they are in, companies should upgrade their business.
Corporate upgrade is a gradual process. We have to first understand what Industry 4.0 can do for us and the related requirements before drawing up a blueprint.
The Hong Kong Productivity Council has unveiled a model in cooperation with Germany’s Fraunhofer IPT to help companies assess their Industry 4.0 progress.
Companies should apply Industry 4.0 at a pace they feel comfortable, but doing nothing is not an option.
Take the first step and begin digitalization. A small company, for example, can install set-top boxes on its existing machines to connect to the internet at a minimum investment cost. That would enable the existing production line to start collecting data in real time.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 7
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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