How Manufacturers Can Migrate towards Digital Maturity

Manufacturers

Introduction

Over the last couple of years, digitization driven by the third Industrial Revolution (Industry 3.0) brought in automation, computerization, and electronics to manufacturing. The more recent revolution (Industry 4.0) has shifted oversight from managers to machines. This has brought about improved quality, reduced costs, and optimized energy consumption.

Some manufacturers have stepped into the next Industrial Revolution (Industry 5.0) through their collaborations, digital talent, and intelligent technologies. However, this progress through the five stages of digital maturity is possible for any organization. Here is how.

The five stages of digital maturity

1. Operations data capabilities

The first stage is to adopt intelligent technology. While several manufacturing organizations are digitally competent, some others declare that they have no plans to develop an IoT strategy or that they have no plans to develop or embed AI/ML in their products. Their reasoning is that their equipment is outdated or that there isn’t anything in their process/products that can be automated or computerized.

Such manufacturers risk being left behind. The lack of digitization won’t go unnoticed, as the opportunities to digitize are aplenty. Starting from inventory management to tracking, digitization will streamline operations.

  • Challenges

Some cases, higher management will not be aware of how or where to get started. This is because machine to machine or machine to firm communication requires a robust infrastructure capable of handling upgrades.

  • Best Practices

Identify where immediate installation of smart device will improve productivity through insight. Invest in infrastructure to support and enrich current and future IoT requirements.

  • Benefits

Cost effective, improving process-level performance

2. Data capture and transfer

Replacing legacy devices at manufacturing plants with smart sensors and controls helps generate real-time insights that allow informed decisions, improving production. But insights are only the beginning at this stage. IoT at this stage brings about improvement in quality, safety, cost, and reliability by allowing production equipment and processes to monitor and adjust themselves.

  • Challenges

Do not embed intelligence in all processes and equipment. Even small to mid-sized firms have various processes and the best way forward is to identify a path to make the whole plant floor smart, gradually, in progressive steps rather than all at once.

  • Best Practices

Develop a long-term strategy that allows machines to respond and react without constant supervision or interference. Bring core processes and critical competencies need to ne the initial focus despite upgrading the entire infrastructure.

  • Benefits

Cost-savings and improvements at the plant level

3. Find and leverage intelligence

In the third stage, IoT enabled manufacturers leverage insights gained beyond the shop floor for day-to-day operations and long-term strategy. With infrastructure that gives you visibility from the shop floor to the management, this stage can improve decision making across the organization.

  • Challenges

IoT enabled intelligence needs to be customized in certain formats/applications for specific requirements of various executives.

  • Best Practices

Establishing a common platform for supporting an organizational digitization strategy . This will help streamline the process from extracting specific data to supporting important applications.

  • Benefits

Improved strategy and deployment that enables informed decision making, enterprise-wide.

4. Manage digital assets/intelligence

Any process is only as strong as its weakest link. Manufacturers need to cohesively manage different digital assets across their supply chain ranging from designing, supplier operations, inbound and outbound logistics, warehousing, production, maintenance, and customer sites.

In this stage, there is improvement in managing digital assets, developing new ways to organize, collect, secure and store insights. A tool to help with this is ‘Digital Twin’; offering visual representation of the supply chain to identify pitfalls and areas for improvement. Digital supply chains are dynamic, with a continuous flow of data and insight.

  • Challenges

Every data point is a potential portal of unauthorized entry. However, as plant floor devices are upgraded, they prove more secure than legacy devices.

  • Best Practices

Limit data sharing/requests to only essential, secure business needs. Establish policies for the same.

  • Benefits

Cost savings and improved supply chain management.

5. Intelligent collaboration

The last stage integrates human intelligence with insights gained from IoT. Collaborations between smart systems, AI/ML, and intuitive personnel collectively improves learning, monitoring and decision making. For instance, employees working with cobots – AI robots that learn and adjust – dramatically increase productivity

  • Challenges

While there are plenty of emerging or established new technologies, not all of them will be relevant to your business needs.

  • Best Practices

Select tools with good reviews that will deliver results in your particular business.

  • Benefits

Competitive advantage to stay ahead

The Road Ahead

While most executives will constantly keep pushing boundaries, the biggest pitfall is that of complacency. Here are some of the best practices to stay relevant and maintain competitive advantage:

1. Documenting current status

Understanding where your firm and the supply chain stands at the moment is the foundation. Knowing this will help identify gaps and potential pain points that prevent evolution into the higher industrial revolution [Industry 5.0]

2. Letting ROI drive decisions

Increased digitization with its new strategies and revised budgets need to be scrutinized very carefully. Any transformation must address the organization’s goals – both long-term and short-term.

3. Investing

Continuously keep track of and review progress of the firm. In concert, maintain your digital relevance by investing in new talent, best practices and emerging technologies.

4. Revenue

Communicate to the entire organization how this transformation is adding value and accruing to the bottom line at the moment. This will enable the organization to be better equipped for a more productive and profitable tomorrow.

While several organizations are at Industry 5.0, others haven’t yet begun their journey of digital transformation. The important thing to understand is that where the firm stands today isn’t as important as where it is headed to in the future. What is your firm doing to maintain digital relevance?

Optimize your manufacturing processes with itelligence to meet new demands. Would you like more detailed advice from our experts or would you like to book one of our manufacturing workshops? Feel free to reach out to us if you need any information.

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