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What are Risks of Machine Manufacturers not Embracing Industry 4.0?


This article will discuss:

  • The risks machine manufacturers face by not embracing Industrie 4.0 models.
  • Industrie 4.0 business models and the advantages machine manufacturers gain embracing it.
  • How machine manufacturers can successfully integrate these business models.

Machine manufacturers are the life-blood of many industries. They develop the machining tools and original equipment that can be found on every shop floor. Despite the obvious demand, only two machine manufacturers made the top 50 in the US500 list ranking the top-earning US companies. This relatively average showing was due to diverse factors including conservative sales projections.

Other reasons include a cautious approach to adopting new manufacturing processes or technologies and sticking to tried and tested production models. Labor shortages and challenges with managing sales channels have also been identified as factors that affect the revenue of machine manufacturers. This means, assessing what it takes to implement new business models can reduce the pace at which new business models are adopted. Industrie 4.0 models are some of the business models currently being assessed by machine manufacturers.  

Introducing the Industrie 4.0 business models

Some of the Industrie 4.0 business models currently being assessed by machine manufacturers are capable of driving business growth and reducing supply chain challenges. These models focus on eliminating waste and optimizing manufacturing processes through automation and predictive analysis.

In situations where optimizing performance is important to growth, the data-driven plant performance model would prove helpful. Data-driven inventory optimization can also assist just-in-time production while predictive maintenance can ensure machine downtime is eliminated. At the center of these models is the collection and understanding of manufacturing data. Harnessing collected data can lead to data-driven quality control which keeps product quality constant across shopfloors.

The risks for machine manufacturers of shunning Industrie 4.0 models

At the ATX Expo, all the talk focused on the struggles machine manufacturers face in keeping up with increased demand. Machine manufacturers identified a reducing workforce and low productivity levels as the key factors affecting supply. The cause of a reduced workforce was traced to low wages and the experience gap. This means machine manufacturers struggle to pay today's wages and can't find experienced workers.

Eliminating the experience gap can be achieved through proper training, and some Industrie 4.0 models have a role to play. One such example is the use of virtual training and validation models. Augmented reality has been successfully used to get staff up-to speed in other industries. In the automotive industry, virtual training has been employed by Schnellecke Logistics to train staff. The result was increased productivity and 20% of saved production time. Machine manufacturers can take advantage of virtual training and validation models to bring new workers up to speed.

Machine manufacturers in the industry who produce light machinery often have challenges with ensuring product quality is maintained with increased demand. This is due to the bulk demands that manufacturers must fulfill regularly. With increased demand comes the need to scale up production. Thus, SMEs that specialize in producing light machines and tools must standardize production variables. Although Six Sigma and lean manufacturing models help with reducing waste, quality control remains a challenge.

To successfully eliminate quality control challenges, production variables must be standardized. This is where data-driven quality control models come into play. Having an understanding of machine capacity, supply chains, and the product lifecycle is what data-driven quality control is about. With collected data, light machine manufacturers can assess production variables to eliminate unnecessary procedures. Manufacturers can also recreate production processes that take into consideration the economics of scaling up. This makes both mass-producing and customizing machining tools achievable across a shop floor.

Another challenge machine manufacturers in the heavy industry deal with is post-sales support. This is due to the complex nature of heavy-duty machinery and inadequate training materials. So, heavy industry factories consistently send out staff for even minute maintenance tasks. This naturally takes a toll on finances due to the reoccurring expenditure of servicing clients’ machinery.

Integrating a remote servicing business model can help cut down expenditure. Remote servicing involves the repair of customer machinery from any location. The data collected and stored by the machine provide the basis for remote servicing. The process can be likened to the data collected by the electronic control unit of a vehicle.  A centralized scanning tool can then assess the machine codes and highlight components that need servicing.

Finally, machine manufacturers must integrate industrie 4.0 concepts when designing products. As most industries make the push to a smart, interconnected factory, they will need the right tools. These tools are machines with human data interfaces and data collection capabilities. The engineering manufacturer, Bosch, serves as an example to follow.

Bosch, has successfully integrated precision sensors in manufacturing machines and other RFID solutions to develop smart machines. This has helped it increase its in-house productivity levels and machine sales in a budding Industrie 4.0 era.


How machine manufacturers can remain competitive by embracing Industrie 4.0

 Helping clients make the move to Industrie 4.0 starts with the machine manufacturer. Machine factories can take advantage of data-driven plant performance optimization models to enhance product design and meet demand. The listed business models can reduce reliance on human workforce and speed up production. An interconnected shop floor also ensures product quality stays constant when mass-producing machines.

Machine manufacturers can also choose to offer machines as a service to prospective customers. This offering involves providing a compatible use and payment option that fits into the business plans of small and medium-sized production outfits. Outsourcing heavy-duty equipment is also another solution that can help machine manufacturers generate additional income to remain competitive.

Integrating Industrie 4.0 also plays a part in reducing defects in products. This cuts out the losses the heavy and light industry regularly incurs with every product recall.

Taking advantage of Industrie 4.0 business model benefits starts with collecting data. To properly collect relevant data, the right industrial cloud solution must be employed.


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