Essentra’s manufacturing journey through Industry 4.0
Manufacturing businesses are at the forefront of Industry 4.0’s challenges and opportunities. This means that a long-term strategy for the fourth industrial revolution is still at the top of the agenda.
Essentra Components is no exception. Our presence as a global manufacturing and distribution business means we’ve had to be Industry 4.0 ready too. Now, we’re harnessing its capabilities and technologies to grow and provide a hassle-free service for our customers.
We know that when you’re starting on your journey to Industry 4.0, it can be difficult to find smart manufacturing use cases. To help, we’ll share our Industry 4.0 examples and strategies, and show how we’ve turned these into new opportunities.
Facing the challenges of Industry 4.0
Although the term has been around for a while, the impacts of Industry 4.0 are still being felt in businesses today. Advances in digital technologies (such as 5G and artificial intelligence) will continue to affect manufacturers in 2020 and beyond.
In a recent survey, 90% of manufacturers reported that Industry 4.0 would have at least ‘some’ impact on their business in the next five years. However, manufacturers now recognise that Industry 4.0 can’t be brought into a business with the purchase of one smart machine. To see the benefits of this industrial revolution, businesses have to set out long-term objectives. Something the Essentra Components team knows all about.
How has Industry 4.0 affected Essentra Components?
At Essentra Components, we have two unique sides to our businesses. On one side, our manufacturing processes and production expertise; on the other, our speedy, high-service level distribution. Our strength has always been in bringing our manufacturing and distribution expertise together.
This means we have a huge amount of data available to us, from our production processes to our ecommerce site. Our long-term focus continues to be how we’ll use and analyse this data to benefit customers.
What Industry 4.0 technologies are having the biggest impact on the business?
Our ultimate objective is to provide a hassle-free service to our customers. The components we create are low cost, which means our customers don’t want to worry about them. As a supplier, we want to give our customers the easiest possible way of doing business. We’re using a range of technology to achieve this, including additive manufacturing, the Internet of Things and big data.
Alongside free CAD models, we use 3D printing and virtual prototyping to find the best products for our customers. Combining our in-house design expertise with the flexibility of these technologies means we can offer our customers lots of options. Plus, we can find the product they need quickly, at a relatively low cost.
Internet of Things (IoT)
We’re still in the process of replacing our legacy machinery and gradually creating a manufacturing 4.0 production process. These machines give operations managers total visibility over the production process so they can adjust controls quickly and easily. Predictive maintenance also enables our team to solve potential stopping points in the process before they become a problem. This makes our manufacturing process more efficient and consistently creates high-quality products.
The increase of data from our manufacturing and distribution processes means we have greater visibility across our whole business – from rapid online sampling to a speedy transfer of information from our ecommerce site to the shop floor. We’re using big data to improve many areas of our business. Our team’s focus is always on how we use this information to provide a hassle-free service to our customers.
How has Essentra Components approached Industry 4.0?
From the beginning, our team recognised that an Industry 4.0 strategy would take years to complete. Digitising our ecommerce site and offering CAD product designs was just the beginning of this process. The future lies in securely sharing more information with our customers so they can have even better interactions with us.
We recognise that this is a long-term process. Yet our objective of connecting our processes with our customers’ continues to give our strategy a positive direction of growth.
How has this changed interactions with customers?
Finding new ways to create better communication between our production processes and customers is a constant area of development for us. By integrating our customers’ forecasts with our planning software, for example, we can give them a greater certainty of supply. Or by sharing our tooling expertise digitally, we can help them easily find or create products to suit their particular needs.
In the future, the biggest challenges and opportunities will lie in how we can share more information with our customers securely. How we use and analyse this data to improve customer service will continue to be our main Industry 4.0 objective.
What is Essentra Components hoping to achieve with Industry 4.0?
Our teams want to have close relationships with each of our customers. This means giving the right information suited to their individual needs, including 3D CAD models or supply scheduling information.
Industry 4.0 gives us the tools and technologies we need to gather and share this information. Our strategy will work to continuously improve the processes we use to do this as quickly and effectively as possible. We’ll also continue to measure our NET promoter score as we work to deliver a hassle-free customer service.
Scott Fawcett, Divisional Managing Director – Essentra Components, explains our Industry 4.0 journey from a manufacturers' perspective, detailing how we’re leveraging data to deliver a hassle-free experience for our customers.