The 411 on Industry 4.0 - How to Advance Toward Change?

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Charles Darwin once said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." These words could not be more accurate regarding the manufacturing industry. Over the past decade, the industry has experienced a radical change in its 300-year-old history. Since the Industrial Revolution brought mechanization to the manufacturing process around 1780, technology has continued to advance. However, it is only in the last couple of decades, that manufacturers have genuinely been able to take their progress to the next level. Wi-Fi has become the backbone of modern manufacturing, allowing connected pieces to work seamlessly together. Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, is the latest phase of development in manufacturing. It relies on the power of data in combination with advanced technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and automation.

These technologies can improve business processes, speed up innovation, identify new opportunities, and provide a competitive edge. With these capabilities, what was once only a vision has become a reality. Manufacturers can fully utilize customization and predictive maintenance to enhance their value and compete more effectively in the global marketplace. At the same time, sustainable practices and a reduced environmental footprint become more feasible.

How to Advance Toward Change? 

Success will belong to those organizations that don't just manage change but welcome it. So how can companies prepare themselves to be part of this shift? It all starts with a robust Wi-Fi infrastructure that can support all the current demands and changes facing the industry in the future. A strong wired and wireless network infrastructure is critical to connect and enable the smart factory. This infrastructure must be flexible, reliable, secure, and easy to manage to meet the industry's fast-changing landscape requirements. Here are some examples of how the network enables manufacturing companies to lead the charge into the future of Industry 4.0:

Embrace Automation

Automating processes such as material handling, assembly, and quality control can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase output. Machine learning (ML) and Artificial intelligence (AI) enable systems to learn and improve, continuously minimizing downtime and human errors. This technology can also help companies be proactive, solving minor problems before they become bigger and more costly ones. Automation saves time, letting IT staff focus on strategic work.

Adopt Digital Technologies

Digital technologies such as IoT, cloud computing, AI and machine learning are game changers for manufacturers, enabling them to collect and analyze large amounts of data in real-time, optimizing processes and improving product quality. Networking digital twins allow manufacturers to identify potential problems and test scenarios without disrupting their physical networks.

Implement a Smart Factory

Implementing a smart factory is a game-changer for manufacturers, as it streamlines operations, improves quality, and boosts efficiency. Digital technologies are at the core of this transformation. With analytics linking, storing, and making sense of real-time data. Allowing companies to tailor their products to customers, manage operations, and increase profits. Cloud-based networks with multiple access points offer reliable connectivity for all devices, whether indoors on the manufacturing floor or outdoors. Internet of Things (IoT) devices and tools can be located anywhere within the factory operation and need a flexible network topology to accommodate production line reconfigurations without shutting down for maintenance. Management needs to have clear visibility into all network devices and application traffic to flag rogue devices or intrusions immediately, isolating them to prevent any possibility of network downtime. With a smart factory, manufacturers can reap significant gains in productivity and profitability while staying ahead in the competitive market.

Adapt to Change

According to a survey made by the manufacturing leadership council "Over 84% of manufacturing leaders now expect to see an acceleration in the adoption of digital technologies over the next few years, helping to drive growth and competitiveness, spur innovation and new product development, empowering employees to make better decisions, and create more efficient, cost-effective, flexible, and sustainable production approaches for the future".

Preparing your business for Industry 4.0 may seem daunting, but it's not a destination – it's a journey. At Extreme, we've got you covered every step of the way with our comprehensive solutions, including a safe and reliable network with ExtremeWireless and visibility into application usage with ExtremeAnalytics to protect valuable resources from malicious use. Adaptability is the name of the game in today's manufacturing world, so having a network that can keep up with your business needs is a must.

Want to be a part of the future of smart factories? Advance with us today.

Learn more about how your network is susceptible to cyberattacks, and how you can help prevent them. 

About the Author
Andrea Quintero
Global Channel Marketing Specialist

Andrea is a Global Channel Marketing and Programs Specialist.

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