A manufacturing digital transformation is much more than purchasing new machinery for the entire factory or making subtle changes to an existing software stack. It encompasses a pervasive transformation that permeates all corners of the company. Your blueprint is a powerful tool to make sure that all of these components align with your customers’ needs, the corporate goal. In this article, we will consider four foundational components of a manufacturing digital transformation.
The first component of a manufacturing digital transformation is Artificial Intelligence. Traditional manufacturing requires factories to routinely scan hundreds of pages of manufacturing log data per hour to track manufacturing throughput. Newer cloud-based artificial intelligence systems can scan data at the time of a call to determine machine condition and performance parameters, while providing real-time analytics. Some cloud-based systems offer batch processing, allowing factories to run multiple productions on a single device. Another component of artificial intelligence in manufacturing digital transformation systems is visual inspection capabilities, which allow factories to inspect parts or whole machines without manual human supervision.
Another integral part of manufacturing digital transformation strategies is knowledge transfer. Knowledge transfer requires a factory to develop a comprehensive knowledge map of its entire operation. In essence, it is an effort to understand the entire distribution of raw materials, semi-finished goods and finished goods, as well as the flow of manufacturing orders. This knowledge map helps to optimize the operations of a factory by enabling it to accurately forecast future demand and improve supply chain performance.
The second component of manufacturing digital transformation strategies is transformation automation. Automation assists factory personnel in several ways. For example, manufacturers often use automated material handling equipment to expedite product development, improve inventory management, reduce waste, and boost manufacturing productivity, all of which directly impacts the bottom line of a facility.
A final component of a manufacturing digital transformation roadmap is ecommerce. Ecommerce is the integration of e-commerce, traditional retailing, and manufacturing. In many cases, companies use ecommerce software to create an online store, which features the products that they sell, as well as catalogs and shipping instructions for these items. Many manufacturers have begun to use ecommerce solutions in the saltwater and waterfront communities, in order to increase their customer reach and increase revenues.
Beyond the specific components of manufacturing digital transformation strategies, there are many other considerations that need to be addressed in any strategy designed to improve factory efficiency and enhance company profitability. For example, manufacturers should consider whether their facilities are properly ventilated and equipped with smoke detectors. They should also consider the number of workers in each department, and the skill sets of these workers, as well as the relationships that exist between them, to identify common conflicts and issues.
One thing that all the components of a digital transformation roadmap will not address is the unique issues facing each manufacturer individually. Every organization has its own goals and objectives, as well as operational procedures and employee composition. It is difficult to generalize the ways in which these issues can play themselves out. However, the more specific the strategy, the easier it will be to determine where manufacturers can make improvements. When each organization is aligned with the roadmap created by the rest of the team, the chances for the best outcomes become much more likely.
Although most manufacturing companies have already begun to implement some aspects of a manufacturing digital transformation strategy, it is still too early to determine whether these strategies are helping or hurting their businesses. Even if some aspects of a digital transformation roadmap are having an effect on the bottom line, it may not be enough to improve overall profitability. It is unrealistic to expect that every manufacturer will automatically see significant increases in profits, while others may still be losing money. When combined with other factors, however, the effect of a well-planned and carefully executed strategy can create dramatic positive results for any company. When properly executed, a manufacturing digital transformation roadmap can help turn even the lagging business world into an aggressive force in the global supply chain.
Deepak Wadhwani has over 20 years experience in software/wireless technologies. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies including Intuit, ESRI, Qualcomm, Sprint, Verizon, Vodafone, Nortel, Microsoft and Oracle in over 60 countries. Deepak has worked on Internet marketing projects in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange Country, Denver, Nashville, Kansas City, New York, San Francisco and Huntsville. Deepak has been a founder of technology Startups for one of the first Cityguides, yellow pages online and web based enterprise solutions. He is an internet marketing and technology expert & co-founder for a San Diego Internet marketing company.