Friday, March 03, 2017 11.36AM / By Karl Friesenbichler
What is Industry 4.0?
Everyone talks about it, Industry 4.0, but what does is really stand for?
The definition of Industry 4.0 is the merging of Internet of Things, Internet of People and Big Data. So, for non nerds, this means that machinery, software, humans and data available on the internet are connected to create a solution for, in this case, logistical automation.
Imagine your conveyor system and ASRS being connected to a controller in the cloud who uses energy grid data to decide how much energy to use while also calculating when your trucks need to leave the distribution centre to be in time, with life traffic data.
You can connect data available from the internet to many decisions points in an intralogistics system, to make informed decisions depending on the environment the system is at the time. And we are currently experiencing exactly that, the usage of data representing the environment a system needs to act within.
The Importance of it All
Seeing what it is, we can now grasp the importance of such interconnected systems. Warehouse management control system are transforming themselves from simple server based applications into services that run from a cloud and become aware of their environment. Don’t miss out on this movement, it is incredibly important to participate in using and connecting data and services to create benefits for your customers, and ultimately for you.
With eCommerce being on the rise for years now many companies become aware that meeting the customers expectations of same day deliveries is becoming mission critical. We live in a fast pace consumer society and we simply can’t ignore benefits we get out of Industry 4.0.
Having your supply chain automatically interacting with it’s environment creates exactly the flexibility and fast reaction time that you need to fulfil customer orders.
Establishing such a system needs you to team up with different partners. A cloud centre you trust, a service provider for your broadband, an IT systems service provider for your hardware and a warehouse management system provider that shares the vision of Industry 4.0. It’s like a puzzle, you need all pieces to see the picture in the end.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the managing system that connects all the dots in the end, it becomes the backbone of your supply chain, and it needs to be able to interact, with you, your customers, the internet and it’s data, your hardware and facilities.
Not everything is sugar coated with Industry 4.0. Data security becomes the most important rule in any business. Ask yourself….What would happen if I loose all my distribution centre information now?
Many large companies such as the US Postal service, Staples, Kmart and JP Morgan have been reporting data breaches. Hijacking data is a billion dollar industry, and it’s not the teen nerd in a dark corner doing it, there are professional syndicates working actively on this.
Keeping your data secure starts with professional up to date firewalls and backups. To make sure we have not only one backup plan we actually upload a compete encrypted backup of all our servers and data every 15 minutes to a cloud centre in Sydney. As for safety, we outsourced our firewall and data security management to a company who specialised in it.
Embrace Industry 4.0
Once you have covered basics such as data security, you can start connecting big data with your decision making systems. This can be a traffic update for your fleet management, utilising weather forecasts for automated sales forecasts that then create ABC slotting proposals for your DC to implementing a strategy to partly switch of ASRS equipment in times when energy is most expensive.
Enabling your management system to use existing data to make informed situation based decisions is the next logical step, and you cant effort to miss it.