How Small and Medium Manufacturers Can Adopt Innovation 4.0 Without Breaking the Bank

How Small and Medium Manufacturers Can Adopt Innovation 4.0 Without Breaking the Bank

Big manufacturers have the money and resources to embrace the many different technologies and capabilities that make up Innovation 4.0, while small and medium businesses may be challenged to simply keep the day-to-day going in an uncertain economic environment, much less take on the task of investing time and resources to build their tech stack. One consideration: it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition.

Technology that makes up Innovation 4.0 (also referred to as Manufacturing 4.0 and smart manufacturing, among other monikers) can help address labor challenges now and in the future. Adopters are finding technologies increase productivity and safety; operate in a more environmentally friendly manner; hasten product development; promote quality; reduce downtime with predictive maintenance; and save time on a variety of other business-related tasks ranging from marketing and invoicing to recruiting and more. reports, “The return on investment of Industry 4.0 can be very high, with a McKinsey report suggesting that the addition of AI and automation technology can lead to 30 to 50 percent reduction in machine downtime; 10 to 30 percent increase in throughput; 15 to 30 percent improvement in productivity, and 85 percent increase in forecasting accuracy…Manufacturing companies that achieve even the lower end of these potential business gains stand to recover their initial expenses very quickly.” (Kumin, Roland. Five Common Myths About Industry 4.0. August 9, 2023.

Many sources indicate you don’t have to start with a major overhaul that disrupts operations; progress can be made in phases and by doing more with the equipment you already have.

According to, “Many of us know that automation is a great way to help increase efficiency in your manufacturing processes. However, not everyone can afford state-of-the-art machinery or robotics. When it comes to inexpensive automation machines, there are several options available that can help streamline manufacturing processes without breaking the bank.” (Timoldi, Daniel. Affordable automation options for manufacturers looking to increase productivity. June 28, 2023.

An article in notes, “The beauty with implementing these technologies is that they build on each other, one investment leading into the next… Manufacturers shouldn’t think twice about simply diving in, researching certain technologies and figuring out how to implement within their companies… A step-by-step approach also allows leadership to gain greater understanding of often complex technologies and systems, snowballing into more successful implementations as time goes on (Karp, Ethan. Digital Transformation on a Small Business Budget: It Can Be Done. February 2, 2023.

The article referenced earlier points out, Modular smart manufacturing platforms are highly flexible and scalable. For example, you can start with a solution to enable predictive maintenance first, before adding another module to automate production orders, then another to capture and analyze quality data, and so on. A good Industry 4.0 platform integrates seamlessly with your existing processes and equipment to automatically capture data, build digital twins, and generate valuable insights. It can also be upgraded as business growth allows.” (Kumin, Roland. Five Common Myths About Industry 4.0. August 9, 2023.

With so many technology solutions available, it can be challenging to determine where to start or how to proceed; however, there are organizations and resources that can help:

To free you up to focus on your business and technology strategy, RBT CPAs is here to offer you peace of mind that your accounting, audit, tax, and business advisory needs are covered. We’re a leading accounting firm in the Hudson Valley, dedicated to exceptional customer service and upholding the highest levels of integrity. To learn what we can do for you, give us a call.


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