How To Get The Most Out Of Industry 4.0 In R&D
Yesterday I was counting how many smart products I bought in the last year. A smart thermostat, light bulbs, speakers, a watch, and a curtain opener – yes it exists, and it would make a great Christmas gift.
This leads me to think, every year more and more smart devices are coming into our lives, and making everything easier for us by storing and delivering information.
Going one step further, when these products recognize redundancies and patterns of information, you truly have ‘intelligent products’. But it’s not only consumers who gain from these devices, but also manufacturers, who are utilizing the digital technologies and data to improve R&D, develop intelligent products, and boost top and bottom lines.
But how do they unlock the true value of Industry 4.0 in their R&D processes?
Generating your strategy for the intelligent products
Over the last decade, R&D has transformed a lot, but many companies are still running in functional silos. By enabling the real-time data from Industry 4.0, companies can break down the walls between the processes and enable collaboration within the company as well as across the network with supply chain partners. With a design to operate strategy, they can bring all the processes together in order to get more flexibility early in the design process.
According to the recent MPI research, “nearly all manufacturers which invested in intelligent products have increased their revenues and profits over the last year, much greater than 10%”.
Plus, they are expecting to get much higher revenues and profits over the next five years.
So, it is not a question of whether companies should integrate intelligence within their products anymore, but when and how to do it. Every day spent without taking advantage of this opportunity means even more market share is lost to digital leaders. And the gap is widening over time as digital leaders are more focused on putting intelligent products at the center of their product innovation plans.
Connect your discrete processes in your product development
Intelligent products can be simple products such as a watch or even shoes, or complex machinery such as an aircraft. Whether complex or simple ones, the common thread of intelligent products is that they are used to optimize how a product is being used in operation.
When Industry 4.0 first came into the manufacturing industry, manufacturers who jumped onto the new technology train dramatically enhanced customer value. The MPI Industry 4.0 Study highlights that the companies who applied smart devices and/or embedded intelligence into operations have improved R&D/product development processes by 85%.
More than half of digital leaders reported that they ‘significantly improved’ their R&D/product development processes, from the application of smart devices and/or embedded intelligence.
The key to achieving this is to connect the discrete processes in product development today. By conducting the design, manufacturing, maintenance processes and making them all work together, manufacturers can reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 for both themselves as well as consumers.
Improve your activities associated with sales of products
Intelligent products also improve activities associated with sales of products at companies. For almost all these activities, digital leaders reported significant changes in numbers.
More than 60% of the leaders reported that they dramatically improved the data access from products and services in the field. Not only did they build up better brand and market awareness but also significantly improved profit margins.
Manufacturers who are willing to deliver new customer value via intelligent products should consider:
- Investing in generating strategies to develop, manufacture, and sell intelligent products.
- Developing and/acquire Industry 4.0 skills and knowledge throughout the company, especially in R&D and product development.