The German principle of ‘Industry 4.0’was born out of a mission to usher superior automation in the German manufacturing sector. The principle, over the period of time, came to be widely adopted across all industry verticals as a gold standard for improved processes, automation, and convergence of tools and technologies. Also known to usher the fourth industrial revolution, the principle of Industry 4.0, came to be characterized by:

  •  The seamless merging of the digital and physical world through Industrial IoT.
  •  Unparalleled automation
  •  Personalization of products and services
  •  Product-defined production
  •  Feedback driven closed data models

Application of the tenets of this principle enabled diverse industries to experience great transformations when it came to the monitoring of assets, real-time value addition to processes, and collaboration between multiple stakeholders.

What Industry 4.0 Meant for Supply Chain, the Weidmüller Story

Let’s take a look at how Industry 4.0 enabled Weidmüller Group to significantly gain performance efficiencies. As a market leader, in Germany, manufacturing connectivity products, Weidmüller Group was looking to boost performance efficiencies by achieving shop floor integration. In the manufacturing parlance, Shop Floor Integration is also known as Manufacturing Execution System that offers manufacturers with the capability to monitor equipment on the shop floor. By partnering with SAP for implementing Industry 4.0, they were able to derive more than 300 mission-critical data points on elements such as downtime and production. By achieving the Industrial 4.0 resulting from an integration of machines powered by IoT, the Weidmüller Group was able to minimize manual effort by almost 50% and ensure greater transparency. To add to this, the company was also able to adapt to industry-recognized best supply chain practices and achieve a smart integration of SAP solutions with Apple devices for greater accessibility.

So, from the above case study, it is evident that by implementing the tenets of this Industry 4.0 principle, the Supply Chain moves to its next best version of Supply Chain 4.0. So, now, let's delve deep into how Industry4.0 sets into motion, a transformative process for the supply chain.

Data powered decision making- Adoption of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence has enabled better forecasting, order fulfillment, and end-to-end real-time tracking of assets. This not only helps in closing power proofing the risk management system but also enables an organization to eliminate unnecessary costs.

Agile and intuitive supply chain-Industry 4.0 is all about making supply chains thinking and intuitive. The whole idea is to put in place mechanisms that can auto-identify risks and eliminate them without any manual intervention. This transformative view is also about making business-critical data accessible and visible to all stakeholders so that decisions are based on the same information.

Efficient warehouse management- Industry 4.0 ensures that warehouse management becomes even more seamless, transparent, and automated. Technologies like RFID can track assets real-time and offer insights that trigger real-time instructions from managers. This machine-to-machine connect enables warehouse managers to manage the flow of inventory even more efficiently.

Modern supply chain demands knowledge-driven, assertive, and agile supply chain managers. To be able to really have a greater picture of the best practices in the supply chain, executive education is of great importance. IIM Calcutta in collaboration with Hughes Education is currently offering Advanced Programme in Supply Chain Management (APSCM), one of the finest in executive education. The course aims to enable supply chain practitioners to grasp the dynamics of evolving supply chain ecosystem and empower them with skills to take on cross-functional responsibilities at a higher level.