The Challenges of Industry 4.0 in Brazil

In addition to investing in modern products and services, it is necessary to have professionals who are able to understand the production process more broadly.
Published: August 5, 2018

Reducing costs, improving productivity, and offering a greater variety of products with lower prices and superior quality: these are the dreams of many companies around the world. On the way to achieving such dreams quickly and efficiently, many have increasingly used technology to interconnect the entire production chain and thus achieve their goals, in a concept that has become known in recent times as Industry 4.0.

In practice, in addition to investing in modern products and services capable of meeting a company’s demands, it is necessary to have more and more qualified professionals able to understand the production process in a broader way, thinking about logistics, customers and suppliers together.

This poses a challenge, as many countries still have a large portion of their work force of professionals focused on the exclusive understanding of machine control. On the other hand, in the United States and in many places throughout Asia, such as Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea, the process of training professionals is already more mature, with continued investment in the modernization of industrial structures to maintain long-term competitiveness. especially in the electronics and automotive industries.

In Brazil, this is a still-distant reality, but there are sectors that have made efforts to work in this expansion, particularly automotive parts, agribusiness, and food and beverages. There is also a positive movement of industry and higher education and technical institutions to understand and implement initiatives geared toward Industry 4.0.

By adopting this concept in practice, a company can achieve positive consequences quickly and effectively. In the auto parts industry specifically, minimizing errors by replacing human processes with integrated data, from the shop floor to the corporate sphere, brings greater transparency, as well as increased quality and productivity, by allowing the entire operation to be tracked—reducing the incidence of incorrect parts for customers, for example. This is made possible by integrating the use of information technology with operation technology; that is, by not using spreadsheets to manually execute production orders to automate this process with software.

To successfully reach the Industry 4.0 level, deployment must be carried out step by step in a modular and scalable manner, offering an attractive return on investment. This serves as an incentive for future installations. Faced with so many advantages to be gained, the reality of the industrial base in Brazil shows that there is a long way to go to reach a level of expressive maturity.

In addition to training professionals, industry leaders need to be able to visualize the importance of this type of investment, and to measure tangible short-term financial returns. With such a strategy, it will be possible to overcome and accelerate the development of this channel throughout the country, expanding the performance of companies and ensuring more competition in the current environment.

Helio Sugimura is the marketing manager of Mitsubishi Electric of Brazil.