Industry 4.0 Manufacturing and Digital Continuity

During each day, industry 4.0 manufacturing and digital continuity are a reminder for me on how far we have come in using technology to bring manufacturing at the forefront of product fabrication. In this article, we will explore what is industry4.0? And how to use it to develop your current processes?

Accordingly, over the last few years, I’ve consistently shared my love of working with some of the greatest innovators. Providing solutions that help accelerate the creation and delivery of these new smarter and more personalized products to market.

Above all, I look on at how progressive and innovative organizations and supply chains have responded to dramatically new market conditions and shifts in supply and demand, c/o the COVID era, and I see a revitalized appreciation of the importance of maintaining digital continuity.

Changes can be adopted relatively quickly at the details level in your digital innovative product lifecycle journey, perhaps through new software functions or applications. However at a higher level, the changes to your general strategic processes or overall business approach, often happen industry-wide and take more time.

Our so-called “modern organizations” have exposed many weaknesses during the COVID era, but the one area of weakness that stood out to me was the lack of seamless integration and therefore true digital continuity.

It is broken today! silos remain throughout many enterprises:

It’s led to a move away from manufacturer-based supply chain ecosystems. Companies have been essentially working with disconnected and asynchronous supply data that makes digital continuity almost impossible to a platform-based approach.

A lack of Digital Continuity, results in…

  • Marketing teams struggling to understand customers’ expectations and opinions = They can’t give meaningful customer feedback to product design teams.
  • Engineering and design teams are unable to harness IoT data = When they want to improve product performance, they must rely on product testing alone. The data flowing between design, engineering, production and after-sales is often incomplete or incorrect. This creates inefficiencies, and impairs the quality of products and services.
  • Production planning isn’t closely tied to demand = Teams lack insight into inventory levels, because there’s no smooth flow of information between planning, execution and warehouse management.
  • Customer service and satisfaction levels are low, and this has a knock-on effect on company reputations. The root cause? Product lifecycle management is too often limited to fixing items that are under warranty.

Obsolete and disconnected processes, mean many companies aren’t ready for the new and ongoing 4IR, and they’re getting left behind.

What Is Industry 4.0?

The shift to leveraging computing power in the manufacturing process is so compelling that it has been dubbed Industry 4.0. Which refers to the fourth manufacturing revolution. We went from the first revolution that used water and steam power to mass production and assembling lines using electricity in the second. The industrial revolution 4.0 is using what was first deployed in the third revolution meaning the adoption of computer and automation by adding powerful algorithms and autonomous systems powered by big data and artificial intelligence.

Why are businesses struggling to achieve Industry 4.0 Manufacturing?

There are three main blockers:

  • An inability to synchronize different functions’ activities early in the design and development stage.
  • Creating, accessing and reusing information on how a product was designed, manufactured and serviced.
  • Difficulties accessing data from products and customers to drive innovation – only 25% of manufacturers, for example, are using data to deliver actionable insights for product innovation, and 60% say they don’t have the analytics capabilities to mine the data generated from connected ecosystems, missing out on huge opportunities of industry 4.0 manufacturing

Tracking and managing all of this “digital” data requires new capabilities.

The move is to where organizations collaborate in real time within the same digital environment and on the same virtual product data set industry derived PLM processes, built into a single platform, where all stakeholders can simplify their operations by using these more generic or out of the box industrial revolution 4.0 processes that are specifically designed to support a data driven and model based approach.

How can companies unlock the full value of industry 4.0 manufacturing digitization and maximize the ROI of past and future technology investments?

As I have noted the answer lies in digital continuity. Firstly, a digital thread connects the whole organization to digital platforms. It helps join up all the systems involved in business operations, traversing diverse functions and lines of business.

Continuity is a powerful way to help achieve seamless operations. It helps enable data-driven collaboration within companies and with business partners. It helps empower companies to transform their businesses by enriching their customer offerings with value- added features and supplier collaboration.

Here’s a quick look at what’s required:

Data integrity

While working with different teams together across the supply chain to deliver digitally to customers who are digital natives, organizations need to operate based on a common source of truth.

As a result, teams need a single source of trusted data from which they can make quick and informed business decisions. This requires capabilities to quickly build data pipelines that connect departmental silos, and within the supply chain.

Enterprise Collaboration

Secondly, this same single source of truth enables effective collaboration. With it, you can avoid the unreliability of spreadsheets, the time wasting involved in contradictory and duplicated data – it means a platform that delivers confidence in the information and therefore faster collaboration.

Allow me now briefly to throw away for a moment my usual agnostic approach to the Product Lifecycle and for a minute to roll out the “marketing commercial break”:


Eventually, everyone involved in getting your product to market can find that the 3d experience platform is the perfect common digital workplace. It’s a virtual development or engineering center.

For a fully digital end-to-end process we need to go beyond documents and files to fully detailed simulations of the industry 4.0 manufacturing operation and even decommissioning and recycling of the products not to mention the management of regulatory compliance processes.

The 3d experience platform exists to enable all of these processes simultaneously managing all the data collaboration and communication related to your virtual twin based initiatives from a technology point of view offering a consistent user experience.

It allows users from different disciplines to consume and add value to data created by others using software products that suit their individual roles while hiding cross-domain complexity from those who don’t need to see it the 3d experience platform enables all stakeholders to collaborate on a single product model used as the basis for all communication from wherever they happen to be in the world.

The virtual twin uses 3d models and technical documentation made by the engineering team and stored in the platform as a foundation.

The changes to the 3d experience platform over the last couple of years, specifically around the unified product structure approach have helped to streamline and simplify the transition of data from engineering to industry 4.0 manufacturing.

This means it’s much easier now to create fully detailed 3d work instructions process plans built on the same data structure of your original built in engineering model.

Business Integration With Industry 4.0 Manufacturing

Fourthly, to support a single source of truth that drives more effective collaboration, most organizations will benefit from integrating core business applications. Data feeds to core systems for ERP, CRM and CPQ for instance, not only streamlines operations but increases visibility in a way that improves business performance and helps ensure customer-centric delivery and compliance making it a true industrial revolution 4.0.

The Digital Continuity Twin

Furthermore, continuity is part of a broader trend. As companies digitize more of their operations, they’re unlocking new sources of data that are fueling massive networks of intelligent digital twins.

Digital twins are powerful tools. Although they have been limited to mirroring, monitoring and simulating discrete devices until recently.

Comparatively, organizations are creating massive networks of intelligent twins capable of modeling entire systems. This include products, factories and complex supply chains. Thanks to the increasing number of digital twins being layered on. In other words? It’s creating a mirrored world that businesses can use to test and optimize the lifecycle of physical assets. Ask “what-if” questions about future scenarios, and design and test new or enhanced products even without building them physically.

Evidently, a digital twin is digital replica of a physical asset (or a product). With built-in IoT sensors, the asset can report back to “mission control” regarding asset state, health, usage, performance, and more. Now your digital supply chain team can track these KPIs in real-time. That’s digital continuity.

You can also expose any streaming IoT data to machine learning algorithms to detect patterns and reveal insights that can help improve performance and optimize maintenance. And to further improve asset design, you can use the digital twin to simulate how a modified asset would respond under real-world conditions. This helps to drive continuous improvement and innovation.

What does Digital Continuity and industry 4.0 manufacturing mean for your business?

Drive smooth operations across the entire product lifecycle….

The phases of this lifecycle include innovation, design, manufacturing, logistics/delivery, and operations.

Certainly, trusted data that represents a single version of truth, using a tool such as the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform for collaboration, helps enable information sharing across these phases and up & down to those who need it, when they need it.

Product design: Imagine the new era of hyper-personalization and involving your customer in the product design. You could collect their requirements through a shared sales/product configurator platform. AI would translate these insights to help in the design/engineering of new products.

Take it a step further, through embedded Product-IOT devices. Utilize real-time data and combine it with customer requirements, thus dynamically improving your products and ensuring they satisfy customers’ needs.

Engineering: Now engineering teams can work on new, co-designed products. Thanks to continuity and powerful value-added tools, you can quickly choose the right parts and components using collaborative virtual prototyping to reduce time-to-market.

Production: Empower customers to virtually try out and configure new products before they buy them. Before we ship goods and to improve quality control. We use photography and image recognition. We use photography and image recognition.

After-sales support: Imagine transforming maintenance from a cost into an opportunity for revenue growth. Or being able to offer predictive maintenance as a value-added service.

These are just a brief collection of advanced benefits that organizations can achieve. Implementing a digital continuity and end-to- end data flows is essential.

Continuity and industry 4.0 manufacturing aren’t just a tech topic.

They are at the forefront of successful business transformation.

Andrew Sparrow

Product Lifecycle Management: People, Teams & Business Solutions enabled through Change & Technology

Finally, sometimes you need a real expert to help decide what’s next. Other time you will need an entire team and and even an entire program delivering.

Hence delivering the entire PLM application layer, along with a productive PLM methodology. Moving your people to adopt new ways of working and explore new perspectives is the holistic approach we take. It’s the quality of our people and their experience that makes the difference.

If we can help you through your PLM journey, you just have to ask

I’m a huge believer in constant change.

Standing still is going backwards

It starts with People changing their mindsets & Processes, enabled through Technology.

Innovative Products, Smarter 4.0 Manufacturing all happens through Agile

Revolutions – start small, empower people & scale fast.

Oh, I can “boil the ocean” with the best of them, but let’s not live there. Analysis leads to paralysis. Dreaming of & waiting for perfection is the enemy of execution.

Do something, get some quick wins and start building momentum.

I like to bring attention to Innovation, Smart Industry 4.0 Manufacturing, Global People Integration & Human Sustainability – I Blog, Vlog, Podcast, host a few Live Shows and love being involved in your revolutionary programs.

I love & thrive in working with some of the world’s largest companies & most innovative organizations.

Moreover, I’m a big people-person & have spent my life meeting as many people & cultures as I can. At my last count, I am lucky enough to have visited & done business in over 55 countries

You can reach me on: 310-367-4123 |