A revolution only gets you so far.
Manufacturers that adopted the principles of Industry 4.0 – or the fourth industrial revolution – over the last decade have accelerated their digital transformations, resulting in businesses and processes that are now more efficient, accurate, and reliable. The companies who embraced this transformation achieved more flexibility and drove down costs while increasing quality. If only that were enough.
As the global supply chain crisis demonstrates, manufacturers and those in related industries still have a ways to go before they can proactively address major industrial disruptions. The legacy systems that many still run simply weren’t built for the demands and disruptions of today’s market.
And talk about those demands: customer demands for the fast manufacture and delivery of fully customized products – “lot size: 1” – require more than digital manufacturing. It requires smart manufacturing and delivery that seamlessly span the digital and physical worlds.
Even if you’re insightful and driven enough to meet current needs, there’s always tomorrow. No single transformation or revolution will suffice; better to think of your digital maturity as a continuing process, one that’s always evolving to meet new challenges. To achieve that continuous digital maturity, you’ll likely need a greater infusion of AI technologies, as well as a greater emphasis on resilience, agility, and people-first practices.
That’s Industry X. It builds on the premise that we will continue to iterate around transforming our industries. Industry 1.0 was centered around the steam engine and Industry 2.0 led us to mass production lines. Industry 3.0 introduced automation and computer systems to the production environment and Industry 4.0 was and is all about integration of all processes and systems from product development to production, logistics, and after-sales service and support. With the emerging Industry 5.0 – the first phase of the ongoing evolution we call Industry X – we will see tighter integration between humans, bots, robots, and AI.
All of this builds on your past digitization work to not only reimagine manufacturing processes, but also to digitally reinvent your business’ core operations, products, worker and customer experiences, and even your business models. Industry X is your source for sustainable competitive advantage in the entire value chain around products, new revenue streams, and market growth. It’s an approach conceived by Accenture and adopted and implemented by Avanade.
We see Industry X arising from the confluence of three sets of trends: manufacturing transformation, smart connected products, and, critical to both, digital twins.
Manufacturing transformation – To embrace continual change, manufacturers need to make the core of their operations digital. That’s not just an ERP issue, but an end-to-end sweep that includes design and engineering, shop floor, and after-sales maintenance and service. And it’s not just the targets of manufacturing transformation that need to be broad; so do the goals. You should focus on the use of manufacturing transformation not just to drive efficiency, but also to drive higher automation, flexibility, safety, and quality.
You should also focus on integrations, not only within your enterprise but throughout your broader ecosystem. Your legacy shop floor equipment and manufacturing execution system need to be integrated with your ERP, supply chain, and remote service platforms, and surrounded by smart IoT devices, including cameras, sensors, microphones, and smart gloves, as appropriate. It is not about necessarily replacing shop floor investments; it is about enhancing and evolving those investments.
Smart connected products – Making your products smart and connected gives your customers more of what they want: more convenience, functionality, and quality. It also enables you to reduce the complexity of your product portfolio with configurable products. Smart connected products are a crucial key to unlocking better CX for more customers, improved service options, and greater post-purchase revenues and availability for clients through proactive failure detection and maintenance.
The design and architecture of an IT Services landscape for smart products call for a range of technologies and components, including embedded software, UI redesign, edge technology, cloud connection, remote service, predictive maintenance, and apps for the entire product lifecycle. Manufacturers who plan to go big with smart connected products may also have to overcome disconnected systems and complex processes that restrict the functionality and product quality. They should also prepare to address inflexible cultures, mismatched skills, and a lack of insights that inhibit product differentiation and growth.
Digital Twin – Continual advances in cloud platforms, big data, and predictive analytics have made digital twins an essential part of Industry X. Building and testing products and production systems in the digital world before you ever build a physical prototype can greatly speed time to market and reduce design and development costs. It is also a great way to reduce energy consumption —a growing factor in the context of costs and sustainability. It’s a great way to help you lead in the market, and not just in product development. Automated, remote telemetry processes enable digital twins of products and systems already in service, to help you provide timely and proactive maintenance to existing customers, as well as new services with new revenue streams.
Perhaps this is why most (55%) software technology decision-makers at manufacturing companies have adopted some form of a digital twin, with another 18% planning to do so, according to Forrester. And that’s despite the challenges that these manufacturers face in adopting digital twin solutions. Many find their efforts hindered by siloed legacy systems that can’t talk to each other or scale to meet the massive new data needs of digital twins.
Companies that want to achieve the broad benefits of Industry X – new revenue streams and business models, higher margins, keeping people safe, and helping to ensure a sustainable future – have challenging journeys ahead of them. Challenging, but not impossible. We work with manufacturers and related industries today to guide customers to their goals. And while the challenges are tremendous, the timelines and projects don’t have to be. We can work with you in days to create the most minimum viable products (MVPs) or just weeks to develop plans and architectures that take advantage of what you have and identify opportunities for early gains.