Are you familiar with the phrase “Industry 4.0?” If not, you should be. A hot topic in the manufacturing industry, being able to talk about Industry 4.0 in a job interview is a great way to set yourself apart from the other candidates. The industry is experiencing a period of great transition, some would even say revolution. Today’s article will discuss what changes are on the horizon and how you can explain your value to hiring managers in light of a rapidly evolving market.

The Influence of New Technologies

Industry 4.0 is considered to be the next phase in the digitization of the manufacturing industry. Following the lean revolution of the 70s, the trend toward outsourcing in the 90s, and automation in the 2000s, the latest revolution is expected to be driven by key industry disruptions such as the rise in data created and collected, computational power and connectivity, analytics and business-intelligence capabilities. New forms of human-machine interaction including touch interface and augmented-reality systems, as well as improvements in advanced robotics and 3-D printing have further influenced the shift in industry trends.

The Cost of Change

These new technologies are now more reliable and more available than ever, which are two key driving forces behind the changes within the industry. However, upgrading machinery and processes to fully take advantage of these exciting capabilities can be a costly endeavor. Manufacturing executives estimated that between 40 and 50 percent of today’s machines will require replacing or at least a significant upgrade. While the benefits of Industry 4.0 technologies are numerous, the process of bringing machinery and factories up to speed can take time. Understanding the tipping point between the cost and benefits is important for both manufacturing companies and job candidates alike.

Possible Response Strategies

Manufacturers eager to leverage these new technologies within their own companies have a number of options available, each with their own costs and benefits. Perhaps the most easily addressed option available to companies is to improve their data collection and use methodologies. Many manufacturers are already collecting vast amounts of information simply by doing business the way it is being done today. The problem is in how that information is stored and analyzed to produce actionable results. Correcting data inefficiencies can have a significant return on investment for companies interested in learning more about their customers, about their waste management, and productivity. The technologies intrinsic to the world of Industry 4.0 offer tools for effectively managing energy consumption, information storage, and even real-time yield optimization.

Additional Changes on the Horizon

While the data analytics and interconnectivity of Industry 4.0 are bringing about big changes, they are certainly not the last advances we should expect to influence the market. New concepts such as subscription or pay-by-use services are expected to hit the market soon. New platforms similar to open-source software programs are also on the horizon. While it’s clear that new technologies are influencing the manufacturing industry, new processes and concepts are also changing the way companies do business.

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