By now, you’ve probably heard of Industry 4.0 and the plethora of manufacturing software solutions that are aligned with it. Often, Industry 4.0 is associated with buzzwords like agile, digital transformation, automation, and customer experience (CX). 

Here we’ll explain a little about Industry 4.0 and how your manufacturing organization may already be experiencing its effects.

Defining Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 refers to the evolving relationship between industry and technology, particularly in manufacturing. New technologies are reshaping how we work and think about work across every industry. The fast-food industry has been reshaped by smartphone apps, which now allow hungry diners to order delivery pizza by tapping a button on their phones. As simple as it may seem, technology, consumer needs, and industries are deeply intertwined and often complex.

Manufacturing software solutions are at the forefront of Industry 4.0. We have used ERP, CRM, AI, and chatbots for many years. As these technologies are applied to today’s industry challenges, the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, is truly a reality.

As technologies spurred on each preceding industrial revolution, so will the new manufacturing software solution inspire the fourth revolution. Ford’s invention of the auto assembly line, the cotton gin, the automated weaving loom, and the Japanese Kanban concept in the 1970s all sparked major changes across the manufacturing sector. Industry 4.0 and manufacturing software solutions are similar to these examples since they draw inspiration from other industries.

The Agile Manufacturing Approach

As a software development approach, Agile quickly inspired other industries to adopt its efficient and time-saving methods. An agile project management approach differs from a waterfall project management system, in which teams work to produce the end product and then show it to stakeholders by showing smaller increments along the way for feedback.

This approach has changed how manufacturers view production, just as it did in the software industry. Smaller increments can be produced, refined, and tweaked to ensure that the final product meets the order requirements instead of rolling out finished goods without input. As a result of this business agility, many manufacturers have been able to improve the quality of their products and the satisfaction of their customers.

Manufacturing Software Solutions

For manufacturers to remain competitive in the global economy, they need software solutions aligned with Industry 4.0. Manufacturing companies should consider these software advances:

Enterprise resource planning, or ERP systems, integrate accounting, finance, and operations data into one comprehensive platform.

Business intelligence (BI) translates complex data and data patterns into reports, while its analogous software, data visualization, creates charts and graphs from complex data so it’s easier to understand.

Warehouse management systems (WMS) integrate with ERP systems and provide up-to-the-minute data on stock inventory.

CRM software automates many critical interactions between manufacturers, customers, distributors, and partners by improving workflow.

Through e-commerce platforms and customer portals, customers can interact with manufacturers online and track order status, reorders, returns, etc.

Manufacturing software solutions can be used individually or together to achieve the desired result. For example, integrating an ERP with CRM can create efficiencies along the sales and customer experience (CX) continuum that solve a particular challenge for one manufacturer, while a distributor may want to integrate their ERP with their warehouse management system and business intelligence system for an even better understanding of stock levels and order fulfillment.

Sage 100 Offers Industry 4.0 Solutions

Regardless of what you think about Industry 4.0, our times are exciting. It is clear that technology will continue to shape interactions and business thinking in unimaginable ways in the future with tools like ChatGPT and Google Bard. 

If your manufacturing business is ready to get the full benefit of Industry 4.0, you’ll love what Sage 100 has to offer. Contact us today to learn more and schedule your free consultation.