Before we maximize returns from Smart Manufacturing, we need to understand what it is all about. We recommend that you read our blog post on this before you proceed with the current post: Why is Smart Manufacturing the Need of the Hour?
While deploying new-age technologies is great, it must be complemented with a corresponding enhancement in people’s skills and correlation to the organization’s purpose.
Do organization’s need to be convinced today of the importance of adopting new-age digital technologies? The power of digital and data is an idea that has been sold to almost everyone. The manufacturing industry too understands and values the benefits of real-time data across equipment, manufacturing plants, and systems and the impact of this data on decisions with respect to operational efficiency, maintenance, scheduling, and quality improvements.
So, how does one tap into the prowess of digital and data to reap rich dividends for business? How should a manufacturing company adopt these new-age technologies to become smarter, leaner, and sharper?
We have tried to enlist a few ways that might help:
1.Creating a communicating ecosystem of machines and equipment:
With new-age technologies such as IoT coming into the mainstream, manufacturing companies can collate humungous volumes of data and with the analytics capabilities and visually superior graphical representations, business users can be equipped with views and perspectives about the entire operation. This accelerates informed decision making which positively enhances revenue while enabling to cut costs, and wastage.
2. Data formats – Critical for building the intelligent layer:
Data is being churned at a tremendous rate with digital interfaces and systems capturing it. Once the data is converted into actionable formats, machines are equipped to inject, understand, remember, and derive patterns. With machine learning and artificial intelligence empowering these systems, they are even equipped to respond in a certain manner as required or even take a corrective action autonomously. The benefits are enhanced utilization of equipment and machinery, higher level of production which directly translates to higher revenue and profits.
3. Creating a holistic view of information for rich insights:
With the data being derived from multiple streams across the production facility and the supply chain and logistics, it enables strategic decision makers to get a holistic view of the issues that often go unnoticed. The amplification of such issues and initiatives taken to resolve them adds great value to the business from the operations, sales, and finance perspective. It enables to optimize cost, enhance efficiency, and realize higher growth.
4. Real-time decision making with digitally presented data:
The time value of a decision cannot be overemphasized, especially in cost intensive industries such as manufacturing. The digital-data duo enables manufacturing companies to not only capture data but also view it in decision enablement formats. With rich insights, they can fine tune actual plans in real-time. For example: With data-driven knowledge, they can decide to change the time of running a production facility based on a better timing recommendation to enhance output.
Such real-time insights can also enable these organizations to keep a tight check on cash-flows and manage efficiently, which directly and positively influences overall profits.
Is successful deployment of new-age technology solutions enough?
If you are considering RoI, then the answer is a resounding NO. Leveraging technology is neither the starting point nor the end point of a smart manufacturing exercise.
The two key words that matter here are “domain” and “Expertise”.
To understand what data to collect, what processes to apply and envision the desired output, it is critical to have domain expertise in the team in addition to technology expertise.
In fact, new-age smart technologies are just enablers. If the objective setting from these technologies and the desired output are not conceptualized by the domain experts before initiating this smart digitization, then deriving RoI could become a lost cause. A smart manufacturing exercise without clear focus on RoI can often lead to initial disappointments, blaming the technology and the vendors and most importantly, low level of adoption of digital technologies. Lack of focus on RoI is one of the key impediments to a successful digitization exercise.