Industry 4.0 for small companies? Is that possible?
Admittedly, in the 10-man company, where "Franz" knows exactly who in the company has to do each task, the question of Industry 4.0 does not seem to be necessary at first sight. The fact is, however, that the small companies, as a supplier, are an important piece of puzzles in the large gearbox, consisting of many other companies. It supplies companies with 500 or even 1000 employees. The small company is an integral part of higher-level productions. Since the large companies have made an impact on industry 4.0 as a future concept, smaller companies are also affected by this general development.
"Production on demand" - a production by acclamation
What is the goal of Industry 4.0? I always have to know if I can realize what is acclamate to me at any time. The question is, in most cases, the seller and not the "Franz" who sits at the workbench. The person who receives the order in small companies must be able to see at a glance whether the rapid production that is required is also feasible. He must have an overview of the material and the manufacturing process. In a small family business, the only thing that matters is the material itself. Paper documentation is still available in the 21st century. Inventory is often only recorded once a year when the stock taking is pending. In the meantime, the content of warehouse is "felt".
Those who lead the company into the future this way, will not be able to follow the general, global trend - to get streamline production and avoid costs due to excess material hoarding. Because if I do not have an overview, but want to make sure that goods can be manufactured as fast as possible, only one thing remains for me: buy all the basic materials in excess. If I do not, I always run the risk of not being able to produce. And in the end, however, the revenge will take its toll on the balance sheet.
What does Industry 4.0 mean for small companies?
Even the small companies on site, like the large, must capture data, which materials have been received, which has been taken precisely from the warehouse. And, of course, everything to ustify the large company above it, with its more extensive processes and timetables. The use of AutoID (Barcode and RFID) in small companies means: knowing where the materials are, knowing what the status of the production is.
The customer's expectation to link the supplier's production system to his own is a trend that will continue. In the future, customers would like to see more precisely where the production is located, in order to successfully implement their own Industry 4.0 target, the production on demand.
Even for small businesses, it is already important for this reason to deal with the introduction of automatic data collection systems. This means, of course, a few considerations when it comes to the installation, but on the other hand it has many advantages over the long term: the small company has a more professional overview of the material and the working conditions. In this way, errors and dissatisfied customers can be avoided.
In the last 20 years, especially small companies have been increasingly encouraged by their customers to provide products with a customer-specific barcode, so they can integrate these into their own article number range. This too was an investment for the small company, which seemed superstitious because it was not needed at first. However, this type of award was also an enormous gain. Any customer or future technical requirement must therefore not only mean annoyance, but can also bring significant benefits to the small 10-man company in the long term, if used correctly.
Are you interested in an automated data collection system for use in your company? Then take a closer look at our Smart Order Solution and download the free PDF now: