Point of View

The Digital OneManufacturing Framework defines success in Industry 4.0

June 25, 2018

In the last few centuries, the world has experienced three industrial revolutions that have shaped our industrial processes:


  1. The first industrial revolution: Labor-centric production processes were mechanized using water and steam power.
  2. The second industrial revolution: Driven by moving assembly lines and mass production made possible by electricity. 
  3. The third industrial revolution: Driven by electronics and the application of information technology and increased automated production.
  4. The fourth industrial revolution: Technology embeds itself deeply in society, with digital technological advances connecting all major stakeholders in core manufacturing activities.


Industry 4.0 is a combined integrated seamless connected network of machines, production processes, and manufacturing control systems. It is a digital manufacturing enterprise with the physical product at the core driven by information from an integrated information network among internal stakeholders, as well as external entities, such as customers, suppliers, etc. Industry 4.0 is all about smarter manufacturing—the use of technology to enable the sub-processes within the manufacturing system to make adaptive and predictive decisions. We developed our Digital OneManufacturing framework that enables manufacturers to meet future manufacturing complexities.


Digital OneManufacturing is the ability to perform mass customization at scale so that manufacturing enterprises manufacture for “one” customer economically and efficiently. For example, if a user wants to customize a car or a product, the manufacturer should able to manufacture the customized version at no or very little extra cost. Right now, it costs a fortune to produce a customized product in the mass manufacturing setup. This is possible when manufacturing enterprises achieve a significant increase in cost efficiency, time productivity, and flexibility by aligning and integrating their manufacturing processes and technology landscape, which is the vision of Industry 4.0.


Collapsing Barriers of Mass Customization: The Digital OneManufacturing Framework


Digital OneManufacturing represents an integrated manufacturing operations organization that endows a manufacturer with the digital prowess to meet future manufacturing complexities (see Exhibit 1 below). Industry 4.0 is all about smarter manufacturing i.e. the use of technology, so the sub-processes within the manufacturing system make adaptive and predictive decisions.


Exhibit 1: Digital OneManufacturing Framework

Source: HfS Research, 2018


  • Digital OneManufacturing is the framework that defines the DNA of digitally-connected plants as one which includes an intelligent, automated, and centralized control system with as little human intervention as possible.
  • “Digital” describes the platform on which digital technologies meet manufacturing engineering technologies and control a manufacturing landscape in real time to serve clients.
  • “OneManufacturing” describes enabling technologies such as robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence, that drive smart manufacturing and an integrated seamless experience which unifies all stakeholders, both internal and external entities: suppliers, employees, and customers.
  • Digital OneManufacturing is where all the process elements of the manufacturer are combined: connectivity, the processes, and intelligence. These elements come together as one integrated unit with one set of unified business outcomes tied to manufacturing organizations.


OneManufacturing Fundamental 1: Building a Digital Underbelly for Significant Manufacturing Technology Upgrade


  • We believe that Industry 4.0 is the confluence of many smart technologies that result in the creation of smart factories. We have identified 13 major technologies that are shaping Industry 4.0. These technologies include Manufacturing Data Analytics, Robots, Manufacturing Automation, Digital Clone or Simulation, Three-Dimensional (3D) Printing, Manufacturing Internet of Things (IoT), Plant Cybersecurity, Manufacturing on Cloud, Virtual Reality in Manufacturing, Augmented Reality in Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing, Visual Analytics in Manufacturing, and Small Batch Manufacturing. The amalgamation of these technologies i.e. the Digital Underbelly is the “central nervous system” that enables all smart manufacturing processes.
  • The application of smarter control mechanisms to robots and artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled machines will differentiate Industry 4.0 manufacturing. To date, robots have been restricted to repeatable step-based tasks without autonomy or self-control or have been deployed in a restricted scope and not on the main assembly line. Industry 4.0 smart robots will work hand-in-hand with humans using human-machine In addition, machines will be connected to the cloud with automated decision-making loops. These machines will communicate in real time with a central IT system and can be controlled accordingly. This application will improve productivity and monitor assets easily.

OneManufacturing Fundamental 2: Fostering an Industry 4.0 Enterprise with Connected Systems and Processes


  • Manufacturers need to have an effective digital strategy to reap the benefits of Industry 4.0. In the Digital OneManufacturing framework, we have identified that these smart technologies can be implemented on the manufacturing shop floor at five levels: smart component, smart machine, digital factory, connected factories, and Industry 4.0 enterprise. The right implementation will provide manufacturers a competitive advantage in the areas of manufacturing process optimization, inventory and resource management, and supply chain.
  • Industry 4.0 connects all the manufacturing components and ecosystems, including processes, sub-systems, machines, customers, and supplier networks. Because every physical system has a digital existence in Industry 4.0, all the manufacturing activities can be controlled through a software interface. This interface gives a better view of the entire system, provides interconnected data to see system interdependencies more clearly, helps streamline manufacturing activities, and increases machine uptime.


OneManufacturing Fundamental 3: Establishing Intelligent Digital Processes to align Manufacturing Processes


  • Manufacturers need to align manufacturing processes with other business processes, such as supply chain, procurement, product development, customer relations, and aftermarket services. Digital OneManufacturing conceptualizes three functions that are enabled by digital manufacturing processes: visualization, analysis, and control.
  • Industry 4.0 will generate large amounts of real-time data. Part of the new challenge is to store and process the data effectively to make real-time decisions. Manufacturers have to identify what data needs immediate processing and what data needs to be uploaded to the cloud and processed for further analysis. Because whole enterprises cannot be taken into the cloud, to make decisions in real time and effectively control this data flow, manufacturers need to deploy edge analytics.


OneManufacturing Fundamental 4: Achieving Business Outcomes with an Integrated Manufacturing Operation Organization


  • Industry 4.0 is all about business outcomes. Industry 4.0 facilitates the building of smart factories that have significantly high efficiency, productivity, quality, and flexibility than the current state. Digital OneManufacturing categorizes the overall benefits into four primary areas: cost efficiency, time productivity, manufacturing flexibility, and enhanced quality operations.
  • We came across many business outcomes while analyzing Industry 4.0 case studies such as energy efficiency, operator efficiency, Opex saving, workload optimization, waste management, asset maintenance, training effectiveness, product testing efficiency, operator safety, remote management, inventory optimization, manufacturing efficiency, security effectiveness, production flexibility, and defect reduction. Manufacturers should analyze potential business outcomes and develop business cases before deploying Industry 4.0 solutions.


OneManufacturing Fundamental 5: Enabling Mass Customization that Promotes Customer Driven Industry 4.0 Manufacturing For “One” Customer


  • The manufacturing industry is entering a mass customization mode in which small batches will be manufactured with frequent changes in design. Industry 4.0 facilitates this trend with 3D printing and digital simulation, thus reducing the cost of developing prototypes and performance checks before building physical models. In addition, manufacturers will have the capability to develop an increasing number of versions and variations of their products. The systematic implementation of “Digital OneManufacturing” enables manufacturers to realize mass customization at scale so that they can produce economically and efficiently for a small group of customers (the utopian vision is “one” customer).

The bottom line: Digital OneManufacturing is the organizational end-state to survive and succeed in Industry 4.0


Digital OneManufacturing provides a framework to integrate all the fundamentals of Industry 4.0. Manufacturers can achieve a significant increase in cost efficiency, time productivity, and flexibility by aligning and integrating their manufacturing processes and technology landscape across enterprises, which can enable mass customization.

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