Five Characteristics Reshaping Manufacturing

How Industry 4.0 is creating a connected, intelligent, global, multigenerational, and experiential world.

Himanshu Palsule, president, Epicor Software
Himanshu Palsule, president, Epicor Software

Manufacturers face a number of challenges. Whether it’s market volatility, supply chain risk, finding value in data, rising customer expectations, or serious skill shortages, the entire industry is feeling the crunch. You’ve probably heard that Industry 4.0, the cloud, and Internet of Things (IoT) can help with these challenges, but to what extent? How can modernizing your operation with a connected manufacturing strategy help you grow?

Cloud advances beyond ping, power, and pipe

The basic early notions of the cloud—when it was just a simple hosting tool providing ping, power, and pipe from somewhere else—have been replaced by innovations that go far beyond storage or managing the simple forms and reports of yesterday. Today’s cloud is a fire hose of computing power and brain power from some of the brightest scientists in the world. Whether you choose to keep part of your data in the cloud or move all of it to the cloud, you are fundamentally changing the way you do business—and you’ll probably sleep better at night as a result.

Unprecedented and accelerated innovation is already happening globally on a mega scale at a fraction of the cost required to achieve it just a few years ago. All of it is enabled by cloud technology and the innovations of the fourth industrial revolution—a.k.a. Industry 4.0. This is life-changing, game-changing stuff, and we happen to have front row seats to watch history being made. When we look back on this era, we will see the many ways we influenced the trajectory of manufacturing history.

The power of Industry 4.0 will probably far surpass all previous inventions of the industrial age. The reason is the phenomenal amount of innovation that has occurred over the last 40 years in which we’ve all participated in shaping. Much of this innovation has focused on perfecting foundational technologies such as microprocessors, lithium ion batteries, digital imaging sensors, wireless connectivity, solid state memory, Internet Protocol, HTTP, global positioning system (GPS), and others.

A lot of that innovation was anchored in hardware—where changes are typically slow and expensive. For example, look at one of the greatest innovations in the past 15 years—mobility. When you make a phone call in the United States, you’re still using the same 10-digit structure that was invented 100 years ago, because the foundation is still the same.

The cloud is changing all that.

Industry 4.0 is driven by the cloud

Cloud technologies are driving Industry 4.0. That’s why today, we see cars that are driverless, registers that are cashless, and commerce that’s currency-less.

Epicor leverages these technology trends to bring you enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and other offerings that are more connected, intelligent, and global and that work across generations of users to create a delightful experience.

Let’s examine these five characteristics in more detail:

·     Connected—This industrial revolution is not just connecting people to people in a social way, or computers to machines in a technical way. It’s connecting people to processes, to machines, to factories, to warehouses, to stores, and to point-of-sale registers. The connected manufacturing enterprise is connecting your front office to your back office and your shop floor to your top floor. It’s changing the fabric of your enterprise.

·      Intelligent—Software today is more intelligent, proactive, and predictive than ever before. It’s like software is watching how we’re using it and adapting. The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning now available in Epicor ERP is fundamentally creating a whole different experience.

·      Global—As businesses are becoming more global, you can’t assume your customer lives nearby and comes in to buy things from you like he has for the last 10 or 15 years. If you do, born-in-the-cloud competitors like Amazon, Overstock, eBay, Craigslist, and Alibaba will take that customer away. And, they’ll do it with minimum friction, without you even being aware of it. Your best plan to stay relevant is to be able to conduct business both traditionally and online with e-commerce so you can compete globally.

·      Multigenerational—Today, we have a more multigenerational set of people in our workplace than ever before. Generation Z—people born after 1995—is now in our workforce. Two-thirds of all people who have ever reached age 65 are alive today. The average age of an aerospace worker in the United States is 55 years old. As a result, a lot more interning and apprenticing is starting to happen. That’s creating tremendous diversity and expectations in the manufacturing workforce.

·      Experiential—We’re in a new economy where experience is the new product, and experience is your greatest differentiator. For example, Starbucks is selling an experience, not just coffee. For that reason, we’ll gladly pay $4 for a cup of coffee, even though a pound of that same type of coffee costs a dollar in the commodity market. The same principle applies to manufacturing. What is your customer’s and supplier’s experience when doing business with you? How well do your employees like working for you? And can you use those positive experiences to create loyalty?
 

Imagine your smart factory where people, processes, and machines are all connected, and you can proactively make decisions with minimum friction. The good news is, you don’t have to imagine this, because Epicor has been imagining it for you. This is the future as we imagined it—not in our labs, but in your business.

Contact Epicor (www.epicor.com) to learn how advanced technologies like cloud, mobility, IoT, AI, big data, and machine learning give manufacturers like you the ability to do phenomenal things and stay competitive in the rapidly changing business and technology landscape.

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