The need for agile, resilient supply chains and manufacturing operations is now critical. The concept of Industry 4.0 encompasses the revolutionizing of overall processes to more efficiently and successfully manage supply chain challenges while maximizing business opportunities.

In an interview, Peter Flohrer, global vice president of SAP Services Manufacturing discusses Industry 4.Now, SAP’s Industry 4.0 strategy, and how its accompanying service package is designed to support the entire Industry 4.0 transformation journey.

Q: Why is it so important for customers to take on Industry 4.0?

A: All industries are facing increased volatility resulting from the lasting impacts of COVID-19, such as the reordering of trade relationships, climate variability, technology advancements, and other forms of economic, environmental, and social disruptions. By prioritizing end-to-end processes rather than siloed thinking, companies are better positioned to achieve objectives specific to their business needs and footprints.

When companies are connected from end to end and shop floor to top floor, they can capture, process, and analyze more critical data to stay ahead of the pack. A recent McKinsey article highlights how the current global pandemic has also underscored this need to coordinate and optimize production beyond the shop floors and plants, ultimately helping ensure more resilient manufacturing and supply chain operations.

It’s clear that now is the time for Industry 4.0.

Can you tell us about the SAP Industry 4.Now initiative?

Industry 4.Now is SAP’s strategic initiative for helping companies thrive in volatile times through Industry 4.0 intelligent processes. This means helping them bring their manufacturing and full product experience process to a new level by combining manufacturing automation with enterprise business execution.

While Industry 4.0 is a broad topic that has been around for some time – and we often consider the concept more of a philosophy than a concrete solution –we created this enhanced Industry 4.Now strategy to guide customers in achieving their specific Industry 4.0 transformation goals.

With every customer’s situation looking entirely different, there is no cookie-cutter solution, which is why the consultative approach is so key and why we draw on our cross-industry expertise to counsel customers in how to integrate all these processes.

How is the new Industry 4.Now service package positioned to meet the needs of today’s users?

To support the customer’s overall journey to Industry 4.0 processes, SAP created an accompanying innovation service package for Industry 4.Now – and the included advisory and implementation services. The four key pillars of Industry 4.Now – intelligent factory, intelligent asset, intelligent product, and empowered people – are the foundation of these services. As I mentioned, Industry 4.0 is an expansive concept, so this service package helps users to home in on specific opportunities where they can improve and excel. They provide actionable road maps for customers to reinvent production and connect their entire company across multiple business areas and shop floors.

For example, the intelligent factory service uncovers intelligent automation opportunities; the intelligent asset service identifies ways to extend the useful life and safety of assets through connected devices; the intelligent product service links to the circular economy; and the empowered people service advances a motivated and engaged workforce that, in turn, drives innovation, growth, and resilience.

In addition, these services help leaders quantify the improvement and benefits resulting from their Industry 4.0 initiatives to show how they contribute to overall customer success.

When leveraged together, this service package allows customers to effectively explore their business vision and personalize a road map to success. We start with a free maturity assessment to evaluate where a customer is in their Industry 4.0 transformation. Once an entry point is identified, the advisory services package offers a big-picture view of opportunities and agile approaches for reimagining processes and realizing business goals. For example, this helps customers determine which area they should prioritize, whether it be management or product design.

The implementation service package then assists with the necessary steps for each customer’s road map to success, including identifying the optimal partners and tools required. What is unique about this package is that it is tailored to specific business scenarios, providing key insights into how businesses can drive time to value as they automate processes and improve the resiliency of their operations and supply chains along their journeys to Industry 4.0.