According to a McKinsey & Company report, manufacturers benefitting from digital transformation are those opting for selective Industry 4.0 application deployment in five key areas.
One of these is digital quality management.
The need for a rational approach to Industry 4.0
There’s much talk of digital transformation driving a fourth wave of industrial development, popularly known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0.
It’s clear that certain technologies – from artificial intelligence and “Big Data” to robotics – have the potential to improve manufacturing processes, making them more efficient and effective along the entire value chain.
However, there’s also a lot of hype, and too little focus on how manufacturers can implement Industry 4.0 in ways that make good financial sense for them. Also, how relevant is Industry 4.0 for small to medium businesses, which don’t have the capacity to transition into highly automated, data-driven units overnight?
Industry 4.0 implementation barriers for SMEs
Small to medium-sized manufacturers attempting to implement Industry 4.0 face a number of potential obstacles. Examples include:
- the costs of rolling out new technologies and applications
- lack of necessary skills
- concerns surrounding cybersecurity and data ownership
- difficulty coordinating change (and overcoming resistance to it) across organizational units
- absence of long-term results specific to manufacturing for new systems and technologies.
Where does real value lie for manufacturers?
According to the McKinsey & Company report, almost all surveyed companies are optimistic about Industry 4.0 and its implications – but “actual implementation results so far are mixed.”
Also, progress is being made, but only by certain manufacturers. 60% of those surveyed reported little or no progress in implementing Industry 4.0 strategies or applications.
Industry 4.0 applications that are paying off
The McKinsey & Company report identified five areas where Industry 4.0 applications are paying off for manufacturers – digital performance management; predictive maintenance; yield, energy, and throughput optimization; next-level automation; and digital quality management.
Across these areas, digital quality management is one of the easiest and most affordable applications for companies to implement.
The report notes that manufacturers can realize significant benefits – such as greater efficiency, better ability to trace errors back, and cost reductions from recalls – by “implementing digital documentation systems that help record and store quality, relevant production, and service information”.
More advanced quality control systems may incorporate the use of “Big Data”, for example to facilitate root cause analysis, and semi-automated quality control.
The importance of a digital quality management system in manufacturing
A digital quality management system (QMS) is essential for integrating a business’s quality system with its other systems – an important step for enabling digital transformation across business functions.
A suitable digital QMS has these features:
- it supports better, faster, more informed decision making
- it enables cloud-based access, so personnel can get and record data when and where needed
- it simplifies document management and version control
- it speeds up quality processes by automating work flows
- it facilitates corrective and preventive action (CAPA)
- it complies with applicable quality standards.
isoTracker’s quality management software
isoTracker offers modular, subscription-based quality management software that’s secure, cloud-based and affordable. It includes a document control module, as well as complaints management, audit management, and training modules, with built-in CAPA capabilities.
Digital quality management is one, straightforward way for small to medium manufacturing businesses to start realizing value from Industry 4.0 – and with isoTracker’s QMS, it’s easy and cost-effective to implement.