Industry 4.0 (I4.0) is a new trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It creates a connected eco-system for manufacturing, integrating computing, networking and physical processes.
On the production floor, each machine, robot, component, and the final product itself has a digital model, connected through data that is shared on cloud. This allows for real time monitoring, control and optimisation. With demand coming from global and regional markets, Singapore manufacturers expanding overseas should embrace this transformation to stay relevant.
Enterprise Singapore helps your company work towards I4.0 in your global expansion process. We work with you to identify market demand and technology sources that your business can co-partner for overseas operations.
Enterprise Singapore is also looking at forming consortiums between solution providers, pooling together your offerings to provide clients with an outlet that can address their issues.
An assembly factory of the future may look like this:
The transformation does not end on the production floor, but involves the entire process. For example, product design and engineering could go entirely digital with the help of advanced simulations, allowing teams in different geographical locations to collaborate and co-share resources. Spare parts can be ordered automatically and delivered with improved just-in-time logistics. Even the product itself can communicate with the manufacturer after being delivered to the clients, who could monitor the operating status and predict maintenance requirements. Such data could also be used to optimise designs of future models.
The manufacturing industry is impacted in two ways:
I4.0 is essential for manufacturers competing in international markets. Many companies have only implemented a limited level of automation. This is due to reasons such as rising cost, a lack of trained manpower for overseas operations, competition from lower cost countries, and higher requirements in turnaround speed and flexibility from global customers.
By moving towards I4.0, your company can:
Beyond precision engineering manufacturers, I4.0 is also relevant for other forms of manufacturing such as textile, food, semiconductor, and electronics as your business competes in global markets.
When Germany started I4.0 in 2011, the German Mittelstand firms shared the same challenges as Singapore companies today. I4.0 aimed to strengthen and maintain the global competitiveness of the German manufacturing industry. The movement has taken off due to two key factors:
An adopter of I4.0 is Schumacher Precision Tools GmbH, a small manufacturer of high-end cutting tools, I4.0 has helped the company achieve profitability despite having low volume. It even allows the company to co-share machine capacity through real-time data exchange with its partner in South Korea.
Other German manufacturers that have adopted I4.0 approaches market their in-house expertise, resulting in the creation of a new business model. For example, TRUMPF – the global leading manufacturer of machine tools and laser equipment – created its Business Platform AXOOM. The platform is based on its own implementation of optimising its factory operations. It has ventured into the high growth business of industrial Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), transforming its business from a heavy focus on hardware, into a strong integration of software solutions.