Manufacturing companies are achieving only 40% of their real potential because they’re wasting valuable time manually carrying out tasks when their peers are busy embracing modern technology to build futuristic factories.
As digital transformation sweeps across the business world, manufacturing companies can no longer depend on traditional approaches to run their business. They need to start getting rid of their legacy systems, augmenting processes, and implementing new technology to keep up with the pace of digital change.
For instance, in the avenue of inventory management, digital transformation can allow manufacturers to see the location and quality of goods in real-time, get updates on availability of raw materials, work-in-progress and finished products, and optimize inventory levels – based on the demand. Such traceability can enable them to improve production efficiency and gain greater speed and scale over competitors.
In the area of quality assurance, digital transformation can help streamline the quality and risk management while allowing manufacturers to ensure compliance with the growing list of regulations. By exploiting new-age technologies, manufacturers can detect quality issues in products and processes more easily and make amends to meet the quality demands of modern customers.
Similarly, on the production floor, digital transformation can provide plant managers with real-time insights into activities while allowing the workforce to be productive and safe. Such in sight scan help in keeping machines running to their maximum capacity – without interruption – and enabling staff to make repairs before they impact throughput.
Why manufacturing companies need to get smart
As the global smart manufacturing market becomes worth $320 billion, the time has come for manufacturing companies to start investing in smart manufacturing initiatives to:
- Get end-to-end visibility into the performance of every equipment and process on the shop floor and improve efficiency in the long run.
- Enable real-time monitoring to understand the health of every machine, spot anomalies, and intervene as required.
- Automate and standardize workflows to reduce the strain on the workforce, minimize errors, and enhance process efficiency for competitive advantage.
- Aggregate and synchronize data across the manufacturing unit and fuel better communication and collaboration for improved decision-making.
The path to smart manufacturing success
Smart manufacturing is not just about embracing the latest technologies. It’s about a lot of other things that span from understanding your requirements to embracing changes and ensuring your workforce is ready.
Here are some steps that can help you succeed with your smart manufacturing initiatives:
- Pick the right business case: For manufacturers eager to get smart, wanting to make an enterprise-wide transformation as quickly as possible to stay ahead of the game is understandable. But this approach does not always result in success. If you really want to make the most of the transformation, you need to take baby steps. First, identify the areas of your business that are most likely to benefit from a makeover and build a strong business case. Focusing on process improvements to accelerate the speed of manufacturing and meet rapidly changing customer tastes is a great place to start.
- Choose the right technology mix: The modern technological landscape is a massive amalgamation of an array of technologies – from the cloud and AI to IoT and AR, RPA, and VR to analytics and digital twins. However, before jumping into the technological melee, it’s important to first understand the different technologies and evaluate ones that will really help you to streamline operations, boost efficiency, and improve profitability. Embracing cloud and data analytics as a first step can help in identifying the challenges you currently face and driving the required efforts to drive the results you need.
- Ensure you have domain expertise: Achieving success with smart manufacturing also requires you to have the right domain expertise in the systems and processes you’re modernizing and the technologies you are implementing. When you embark on the digital transformation journey, make sure to have a team with deep domain expertise carry out the implementation. Building an in-house team or working with a partner who can bring years of experience and expertise to the table is a good way to maximize smart manufacturing ROI.
- Train the workforce: Smart manufacturing cannot bear fruit overnight. It requires months and months of sincere efforts, so you establish a culture that motivates the workforce to be open to new technology adoption. Continuously training the workforce and empowering them to change their ways of working is essential to accelerate time to value. Make sure to constantly assess and augment the skills of your employees to ensure they are making the most of the digital transformation.
- Measure and improve: Just like any enterprise project, smart manufacturing initiatives also need to be constantly tracked and measured. This not only helps your efforts to stay on track, but it also helps you detect deviations and make amendments to your efforts, so you can reach your digital transformation goals faster. Having a robust process in place for measuring the progress (and success) is critical to optimize your smart manufacturing efforts.
With smart factories poised to boost the global economy by $1.5T by 2023, it’s time to pull up your socks! Is your manufacturing organization prepared for the transformation? Get smart, get successful. Contact us today!
After successful 5 years stint in a corporate role, Nitin is back to what he enjoys most – conceptualizing new software solutions to solve business problems. Nitin is postgraduate from IIT, Mumbai, India and in his 19 years of career, has played key roles in building a desktop as well as enterprise solutions right from idealization to launch which are adopted by many Fortune 500 companies. As a Founder member of Pratiti Technologies, he is committed to applying his management learning as well as the passion for building new solutions to realize your innovation with certainty.