History has shown us time and again that companies who adopt emerging technologies gain a competitive advantage over those who do not. In 1913, Henry Ford was the first to adopt and apply the automated assembly line process used by the food industry to his factory floor. Doing so shortened his production rate from 12 hours to 2 hours and 30 minutes, and made Ford a household name.
On the flipside, history shows us that companies who fail to restructure their processes in order to keep pace with innovation risk their bottom line. Blockbuster Video resisted change and ultimately found themselves buried by the door-to-door DVD, and eventual streaming giant, Netflix. The company’s reluctance to adapt their business model to keep pace with emerging media delivery systems ended with the organization filing Chapter 11 with $900 million in debt in 2010.
Today, advances like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 have brought to the manufacturing world smart machines that are capable of constant, intuitive communication. We are truly on the edge of an industry-wide transformation as the number of these devices continues to rise. Manufacturing organizations who are willing to take the leap and leverage this new, cognitive computing by integrating their Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) systems, will become the industry’s next success stories.
The adaptations the manufacturing industry are being driven to make today are not unlike what Ford did in the 1900s.
By emulating the flour mills and canning factories whose assembly lines were structured for efficiency and fast production he was able to lead the automobile industry. Similarly, manufacturers who adopt the digitization that has served other industries so well will be the ones that rise to the top.
The ebook, The Power of On-Machine Intelligence by Stratus Technologies and the International Society of Automation (ISA) states, “Machine builders that incorporate onboard computers which support digitization will be the preferred suppliers.” Those who automate to keep pace with the innovations that the IIoT and Industrial Internet 4.0 is bringing will ultimately be sought after and valued for their efficiency.