Digitisation is a process of continuous improvement
If you bring terms such as Industry 4.0 and Smart Factory back to their fundamental principles, what you’re essentially doing is building greater resilience, consistency, and flexibility into your manufacturing operations.
Technologies such as ours do this by providing your team with the visibility, information and tools they need to help identify ways to maximise the utilisation of critical resources, achieve greater throughput and increase profitability. Greater visibility, shared knowledge and insight are the key to picking up on the early indicators of impending delays or shortfalls. This allows teams to take proactive, preventative measures rather than reactive actions, hence maintaining on-time delivery and high levels of efficiency.
Our customers for example have been realising thebenefits of digitisation for many years, long before terms such as Industry 4.0 existed. It’s been the continuing demand for analysis of data in real time, process control and data-driven decision support tools that has informed the design of our latest generation of software. In this last year we’ve seen even more customers migrate to this latest version. They are now benefiting from the new features, improvements and enhanced user experience that come from using the most up-to-date technologies.
Digitisation of manufacturing operations
There are some key differences between when we started out in the nineties and now. Today there’s greater awareness and accessibility, it’s not something that’s considered to only be applicable to larger organisations anymore – there are great programmes and grants supporting SMEs looking to digitalise. The relationship between people and technology has changed significantly in 30 years.
There are potentially fewer barriers to user adoption thanks to people’s familiarity with a wide variety of applications in their day-to-day activities and a general understanding of the role of data. And finally, as technology evolves the ability to exchange contextual information with other products, machines and systems will see the demand for digitisation being increasingly driven down from OEMs through the supply chain. This will of course be to satisfy their requirements of reliable deliveries, improved communication, and to enable them to focus on rapid product development and innovation but this inevitably creates an even more competitive situation within the supply chain.
Companies will need to increase their efforts to find even the smallest margins of improvement to confidently make competitive bids for work. They’ll need the flexibility and real time insight to be able to respond quickly to calls for parts, changing requirements, delays or disruptions. They’ll need to satisfy the demand for live progress updates and traceability of production history. All of this is best supported by validated data captured at point of event to provide people with instant, actionable insights. And by creating repeatable, controlled processes you reduce time spent on non-value adding activities such as paper-based communication or walking around the shopfloor to check progress, freeing people for innovation and creative problem solving.
The implication of terms such as Industry 4.0 is that manufacturing is undergoing a revolutionary change, whereas it’s actually building upon an existing platform of technologies, theories and practices. That’s why we recommend companies look to manufacturing operations first to understand the tangible and quantifiable benefits of digitalisation. We also take a modular approach because it’s important to identify and address your most critical areas first. Digitalisation is a process of continuous improvement; companies can use the insight that each step provides to determine the best next steps for improvement and/or investment to secure ROI. It can be series of small steps rather than something to be frightened of meaning you never take any step forwards.