Industry 4.0 represents the next phase of innovation in production processes, merging traditional systems with new digital technologies (IoT, AI, big data, AR, robotics, M2M, real-time analytics, and so on), facilitating automation, agility, and efficiency to create a world of smart manufacturing.
In an Industry 4.0 world, supply chains are completely visible and workflows are fully automated. Factories, machines, products, and processes are all smart; all connected; and all sharing data to better serve today’s sophisticated customers. This revolution is basically the digital transformation of manufacturing, with clear benefits that include better security, reduced cost, customer satisfaction, competitive differentiation, and more.
Industry 4.0 was first introduced in 2011, so why all the buzz 10 years later?
You guessed right, it’s none other than COVID-19 accelerating the revolution. According to Gartner, by 2024, following the pandemic, over 30% of manufacturers driving Industry 4.0 programs, will change their business models compared to 10% before the pandemic. This is because manufacturers will come out of the crisis knowing they must adapt to a changed environment, with different user preferences, new processes, and flexible workplace models.
And the pressure is on you to manage and control this new evolving environment.
Gartner advises manufacturers to take into account disruptions such COVID-19 and “overcome impending crises with the least possible damage, and to be better prepared for any kind of downturn or even cyclical crises in the future.” Yet with today’s legacy WAN architecture, following this advice is easier said than done, and overcoming unexpected challenges with the “least possible damage” sounds like mission impossible (minus Tom Cruise and the happy ending).
Gaining business value through the ability to converge the digital and physical environments is the essence of Industry 4.0. However, the potential of this revolution can’t be realized with an outdated, fragmented network infrastructure.
Current networks were never designed to support the fundamental requirements of security, flexibility, availability, and resiliency Industry 4.0 demands. Too many manufacturers are stranded with legacy MPLS-based networks, and IT has no effective way to gain visibility across systems, locations, processes, and users; and extracting actionable data becomes close to impossible. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Gartner predicted that by 2021 only half of all Industry 4.0 transformation initiatives would be successful.
Let’s examine one of the essential requirements for leveraging Industry 4.0 – continuous availability. According to ITIC’s recent report, 8 out of 10 enterprises require a minimum of 99.99% uptime for their mission critical systems; and 2 out of 10 enterprises request at least 99.999% availability. These expectations may seem high, but in the context of Industry 4.0, they’re necessary and justified.
The business damage from downtime affects enterprises of all sizes and verticals. In 2020, 98% of enterprises indicated that the hourly cost of downtime was more than $100K; and for 34%, the cost reached $1M! Considering the volume of processes and systems manufacturing includes, just one hour of downtime entails significant loss to the business.
Any trouble with your network could translate into damage to production, loss of data, and negative impact on your brand reputation.
As smart manufacturing continues to evolve, manufacturers must adapt to, and keep up with, changes (both predicted and unpredicted). From IT’s perspective, this calls for a network that enables them to seamlessly and securely support new technologies as they’re introduced, alongside ensuring constant connectivity to everyone, everywhere. Without this, IT won’t be able to support Industry 4.0 projects and manufacturers will find themselves out of the game.
To empower manufacturers to emerge stronger from the global crisis and deliver on the promise of Industry 4.0 – a new (and smart) network is needed. A network that provides the underlying mission critical infrastructure that can support Industry 4.0 technologies. Fortunately, this network already exists. It’s called Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and is considered by Gartner to be transformational and the future of network security.
SASE converges SD-WAN and network security into a single cloud service, delivering a uniform set of security and optimization capabilities, connecting all users, equipment, and locations. A SASE platform is cloud-native and its service is delivered through a global private backbone, supported by numerous distributed PoPs.
With SASE, IT can eliminate MPLS, deliver optimized performance, maintain a strong security posture, ensure 99.999% availability, and natively support new digital technologies.
A true SASE network will ensure you can respond better to business needs, deploy workplaces of any kind faster, and enable the Industry 4.0 transformation to support your modern global manufacturing business.
Pre or post COVID-19, the fourth industrial revolution touches upon enterprises of various types, sizes, and locations all sharing the same challenge: How to embrace new technologies that support both current and future needs, justifying their related investment. Manufacturers that succeed in leveraging the use of new technologies will be able to improve business operations, create new value, prevail the global crisis, and be ready for the unexpected; be ready for the new normal.
We’re in the midst of this revolution, and the question to be asked is not will your business be disrupted, but rather when will your business be disrupted, and how can you ensure your underlying network infrastructure is adequate to support the Industry 4.0 journey and create value for your company.
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Gartner’s Predicts 2020: Resilience in Industry 4.0 for Advanced Manufacturing Builds on Data and Collaboration Models, ID G00465232
ITIC 2020 Global Server Hardware, Server OS Reliability Survey