Manufacturers Advised to adopt IR 4.0 Technologies that match Desired Outcome

Implementing changes under the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) to achieve manufacturing excellence need not be million ringgit investments, but should be done with “the end in mind”.

NationGate Solutions vice president C K Tan, who has over 40 years of experience in manufacturing, was speaking on “The imminence and importance of the Adoption of IR 4.0 Framework in Manufacturing to Maintain Effectiveness”. Over 35 people attended the webinar organised by WOU’s School of Science & Technology (SST) on 20 June 2022.

Digital transformation will lead to manufacturing excellence and growth.

He lamented the common misconception that IR 4.0 entails adopting “very high technology”. He stressed, “Use discretion and choose something that’s practical and effective for your purpose, and offers best value-for-money.”

He said the four fundamentals of manufacturing excellence are productivity, on-time delivery, quality and competitive costing. The complementing factors are being predictable (no excuses), dependable, responsive (act swiftly), and systematic (good practices), he added.

Tan has over 40 years of experience in manufacturing.

Tan also cited the seven key success factors of manufacturing excellence. They are: man (productive workforce), machine (equipment efficiency), material (quality), method (robust process and intelligent system), system (smart), safety (culture), and environment (conducive).

A machine that is not working well can affect output. And when managing a large quantity of components or a large workforce, you should have a good system,” he said.

He asserted that the KPI of IR 4.0-ready manufacturers are high productivity, quality, on-time delivery, competitive cost and customer satisfaction, while IR4.0-lacking manufacturers are complacent, suffer declining business and become obsolete.

Fundamentals of manufacturing excellence.

He said manufacturers need not adopt all the 9 pillars of IR 4.0 – autonomous robots, systems integration, Internet of Things (IoT), simulation, additive manufacturing, cloud computing, augmented reality, big data, and cyber security – but must choose what they want. “For example, data can help with early detection action, providing tell-tale signals, real-time triggers, and fast feedback for swift response,” he elaborated.

He pointed out that the 9 technologies under the IR4.0 framework remove dependency on humans and their memory, enabling faster decision making and more operational efficiency.
He gave scenarios of how manufacturers or owners can adopt the 9 technologies into the IR4.0 framework, such as applying 3-D printing technology for prototyping to cut time and cost, and using robotic tools to improve efficiency.

IR 4.0 helps to get things done efficiently and effectively.

Tan continued, “Simulation will help detect bottlenecks in operations for faster feedback, while IoT provides data collection and sensors for real-time triggers.” Meanwhile, cloud computing allows for embedded algorithms, AI, and coordinated processing, cyber-security protects against digital threats (anti-virus; anti-hack, anti-scam), and Augmented Reality (AR) provides interactive real-time experience for machine training.

“As a manufacturer, whatever decision you make, must be governed by the end in mind. If you want to automate machines, you can perhaps use simple mechanisation instead of investing millions of ringgit,” he remarked. He used the analogy of buying a smartphone, where the purpose or intended uses will affect your selection of a particular device.

Ensure good ROI for your adoption of technologies under IR 4.0.

To question on justifying return on investment (ROI) of IR 4.0, he said, “The ROI is good if the value or output achieved is more than the investment, such as digitalisation of data that can help with quick decision-making in the fast-changing corporate world.”

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