Stepping Up Capabilities For A Resilient, Digitally Inclusive Industry 4.0 Future

Stepping Up Capabilities For A Resilient, Digitally Inclusive Industry 4.0 Future

The journey to the factory of the future starts with connecting factory assets—adding sensors to machines and equipment to collect data, then monitoring and adjusting operations accordingly.​

Article by Vivek Chatrath, Sales Director, Small, Medium and Corporate Segment, Microsoft Singapore
Photo: Vivek Chatrath Photo credit: Microsoft.

Today, we are at the frontlines of tensions over politics, trade tariffs, and technology, as we continue to deal with the global pandemic and natural calamities that are disrupting global supply chains. It’s an environment that has exacerbated the impact of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity on manufacturers around the world and in Asia.

In our borderless world, manufacturing has seen a monumental shift in how business is done. From creating globalisation-oriented supply chains where cost efficiency was a core consideration and few countries manufactured for the world, we’ve shifted to trade tension-led manufacturing supply chains trying to adjust to disruption.


In many cases, the building of supply chains involved the diversification of production bases and product mix, with some manufacturers considering moving production bases to reduce tariffs and some to get closer to suppliers and materials. Manufacturers are also prioritising sustainability and are taking action to transform their manufacturing lines as they revisit how and what they produce.

The question is how to make this a reality, whether you are a discrete manufacturer, process manufacturer, or even an agri-business manufacturer.

Building Agile Factories Of The Future

To customise products and services for customers and to innovate at speed, manufacturers need agile, collaborative, and responsive conceptualisation, design, testing, production, and a post-sales service process, just like a feedback loop. This requires solutions that also enable the “factory of the future.”

This refers to a complex ecosystem of self-regulating machines and sites that customise the output, optimally allocate resources, and offer a seamless interface between the physical and virtual world.​

The journey to the factory of the future starts with connecting factory assets—adding sensors to machines and equipment to collect data, then monitoring and adjusting operations accordingly.​

Ultimately, you’ll want to connect and monitor factory performance from your high-tech manufacturing facilities across the globe, using data from smart assets to apply operational insights and further optimise your production processes.

Even the most advanced manufacturing giants such as Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric, and Siemens are finding new opportunities by augmenting operational technologies with the Microsoft Cloud. This brings forth new capabilities such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), mixed reality in a secure and compliant way.

Creating Diversified, Resilient Supply Chains

As customers’ needs diversify, manufacturers are making more product variants than before and delivering customised connected services along with them. Now, supply chains are more complex and multifaceted, and diversification and resilience can only be strengthened when manufacturers can sidestep complexity and keep track of everything that is happening.

That is possible today, as manufacturers build intelligent and resilient supply chains powered by a new generation of intelligent business applications to deliver the right products, parts, resources, and services where and when they’re needed. This achieves a balance between desired customer service level and budget requirements and enables tighter upstream and downstream collaboration across increasingly complex value chains.

Together with connected field service solutions, manufacturers change the game as they open a whole new world of possibilities – whether they remotely monitor smart products on a vertical hydroponics farm or automate maintenance issues in products and production lines, so breaks can be fixed before manufacturers lose an entire day of revenue from their line.

Some of our manufacturers are already on this journey today. For example, Caterpillar has reduced its parts inventory by up to 15 percent by using a customised integrated business planning solution built on Microsoft cloud. Resilient supply chains are also taking the shape of service technician empowerment, real-time guidance, and cross-team collaboration, and organisations such as Rolls Royce and Ecolab are putting these solutions into play.

We are further integrating partner capabilities from SAP, PTC, Blue Yonder, Aveva, and Siemens, through the Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing, so manufacturers don’t have to rip and replace what they already have, and can build on what they’ve already spent years investing in.

The Path Forward To Resilience And Agility With Microsoft In Singapore

Manufacturers like us have a huge opportunity in building a resilient, digitally inclusive future. We lead the way in building smart cities, autonomous vehicles, add intelligence to existing products from drones to medical devices, help save energy and water, and fuel and feed the world through industrial equipment and precision agriculture. We hope to do this with our partners, as we empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.


Featured photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash






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