Metals 4.0: Why it's the future of metals

Tony Barnes
| 6/29/2022
Industry 4.0: Why It’s the Future of Metals


Those who have been in the metals business for a while understand how metals businesses and products affect lives and communities across the globe. But these days, nearly everything has changed – the machines, the volume and types of products, the customers, and the world around us.

Digitalization has influenced every industry around the globe.

Industry 4.0 provides a digital-first framework for businesses to use technology and innovation as cornerstones of their growth. Companies that are not actively pursuing a digital transformation strategy might leave themselves vulnerable to being left behind.

The metals industry is no different – and that’s where Metals 4.0 comes in.

It’s essential that metals leaders adopt the technologies needed to continue to grow the metals companies that have shaped our world.

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The future is Metals 4.0. But are you ready?

Businesses would do well to adopt metals-specific technologies to transform operations, recruitment, and customer experience. With a digital-first approach, metals businesses could have the ability to meet growing demands, navigate supply chain disruptions, and adapt to inevitable changes in an increasingly volatile market.

Four factors every metals company needs to consider.

No matter where a company is on its digital journey, here are four factors to consider when investing in new technology that could help the business lead the way into the Metals 4.0 era.

1. Intuitive technology could help grow and retain the workforce.

Attracting and retaining talent is a challenge, no matter the industry. The future of the metals workforce has expectations for intuitive, cutting-edge platforms and systems. Workers expect systems to make their job easier, not harder, and that expectation is only increasing with the next generation of employees. New systems need to integrate seamlessly into current operations and be nearly effortless for workers to adopt.

According to our most recent survey of metals executives, employee experience is fast becoming one of the most important factors metals businesses consider when making technology investment decisions. Any Metals 4.0 technology a company invests in should be easy to use, provide a user-friendly interface, and be adopted by technical and non-technical staff alike.

2. Strategic technology could help differentiate companies from the competition.

Technologies such as advanced data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other cloud-based tools help metals businesses differentiate themselves from competitors by offering short- and long-term improvements. These include monitoring and optimization of operations, market fluctuation predictions, and real-time order updates from web-based portals. As businesses develop and execute a technology road map, they should consider what opportunities these capabilities might create to help them get ahead of competitors.

Focusing on areas like order processing, integrating disparate systems, and improving collaboration and automation could be the edge needed to set a business apart. These solutions can allow your teams to be guided by more accurate and timely information when making important decisions that could result in more business.

3. Modern ERP technology could help maximize margins.

Few technologies are designed with the specificity of the metals industry in mind. A cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system like Microsoft Dynamics 365™ provides an intuitive interface that can help organize core functions in one place, simplify access, and reduce training and implementation time.

As the industry and competitors’ practices evolve, teams will find themselves looking for streamlined processes and better visibility into all areas of the organization. Crowe Metals Accelerator for Microsoft Dynamics 365 could help businesses optimize material usage and inventory, meet the demands of customers with real-time quotes, and maximize margins for any metals industry business – including mills, service centers, toll processors, fabricators, and manufacturers.

4. Secure technology can help manage risks and reputation with confidence.

In last year’s technology in metals survey, metals executives indicated cybersecurity threats were the greatest concern for sustained growth. The threats become even more real as connected manufacturing increases data transfers between stakeholders, and a growing remote workforce demands data availability from multiple locations. Using a cloud-based ERP system like Dynamics 365 means your data is backed by around-the-clock monitoring and continuous updates from vendors with specialized expertise.

Let us help you prepare for Metals 4.0.

As a leader in implementing systems like Dynamics 365 for businesses, Crowe combines metals industry experience with deep specialization in technology to help metals businesses seamlessly integrate the newest technologies, strategically make their way through the implementation journey, and achieve success for themselves and their customers.

Consider a Crowe consultant to help you confidently implement new technology and strategically manage the future of your metals business.

Microsoft and Dynamics 365 are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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Tony Barnes
Tony Barnes
Principal, Microsoft Cloud Solutions Leader