INDUSTRY 4.0, otherwise known as the 4th Industrial Revolution, along with IoT (the internet of things) has become central to the digital transformation of the global manufacturing sector, and Namibia must begin to derive key lessons from this progression.
With an industrialisation agenda on the cards, through the Namibian government’s Growth at Home strategy, it is notable that these two global industrialisation pillars are creating manufacturing agility, which is key to aligning business ability to product delivery.
Manufacturing originated from steam, then progressed to mechanised machines and evolved to the development of electricity, the assembly line and the introduction of mass production.
The third era of manufacturing introduced computers and the start of automation, in terms of assembly lines.
We have now entered the ‘smart future’ of Industry 4.0, whereby computers and automation come together in a new and innovative way, to control robotics with very little human intervention, ultimately creating the ‘smart factory’.
Industry 4.0 has already begun to transform products and how companies operate and manage production in this unique environment.
It is a giant leap forward for manufacturing innovation, characterised by ‘smart devices’ that can take control of machines on the shop floor, and which can communicate autonomously from device to device, to manage manufacturing operations and distribution.
Through the monitoring of productivity and efficiency of employees, machinery and business processes, company management is now able to access important information in real-time. The entire manufacturing value chain can be monitored, from concept to completion, and beyond.
The fusion of Big Data, the Internet of Things, and advanced analytics, is providing manufacturers with unprecedented insights – insights into manufacturing performance, customer behaviour and new product development, as never seen before.
Another critical benefit this new technology delivers is a consistent feedback flow between companies and their customers.
This allows for products to be improved or highly influenced by the end-user, by transforming how they are designed and produced.
Industry 4.0 harnesses uncertainties and removes assumptions and risky forecasts, enabling a relevant level of actual knowledge, and a newfound level of insight.
Essentially, in Namibia, manufacturers need to be prepared to translate that knowledge and awareness into concrete investments and real projects. For that to happen, manufacturers need to be convinced that Industry 4.0 will make a significant difference to their businesses, by delivering a return on their investment.
Compared to the rest of the world, the current adoption and impact of industry 4.0 on the African continent, remains low. However, it is a topic that is increasingly being acknowledged and discussed by industry leaders and policymakers, largely because of the impact smart technologies can make at a socio-economic level.
Conclusively, the biggest challenges in Namibia remain connectivity and accessibility. However, companies that have embraced IoT have already started to become more globally competitive, and this shows the way forward for the Land of the Brave.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015