Digital transformation holds the potential to transform every manufacturing operation into an Industry 4.0 operation.
Process transformation means converting traditional processes to more efficient digital systems that can increase efficiency dramatically, improving all aspects of the operations.
Product and service transformation means creating new value-add services that can both improve the manufacturing environment and the customer experience while opening new revenue streams.
Before embarking on a digital transformation journey, it’s critical to understand your objectives, adopt a holistic yet realistic approach, and partner with the right advisor who can support you on both the technology and strategy aspects of your initiative.
Below, we lay out a phased approach—one that helps you start in minutes, gain rapid insights, and expand when you’re ready.
While your connected factory project is unique to your business, this approach offers a starting point grounded in HSO’s experience of working with leading manufacturers to digitally transform their businesses.
The following is our framework for getting started with Industry 4.0:
1. Determine your digitisation objectives
Digital technologies are transforming manufacturing. While you may not know exactly where you want to end up or what digitisation means for your organisation, it’s important to identify the kinds of business objectives that digitisation can support.
2. Experiment with simulated data
Experimenting with a solution that allows for simulation gives you a no-risk way to see what digitisation can accomplish. Simulations don’t require connecting any of your actual equipment and won’t impact your operations.
3. Connect equipment without disruption
Digitisation doesn’t have to be accomplished all at once. Connecting a specific set of equipment enables you to experiment on a small scale and at your own pace—all without disrupting operations. This creates a foundation you can build on and scale out across your organisation when you’re ready.
4. Contextualise and visualise manufacturing performance
With connected equipment comes greater visibility into operational status, anomalies, trends, and other performance insights. This visibility is the foundation for making a wide array of operational improvements.
5. Make operational changes based on data
Connected equipment is ultimately useful when it drives changes. Anomalies can be quickly detected and fixed. Maintenance schedules can be optimised to minimise disruption. There’s no limit to the kinds of data-driven improvements that become possible.
6. Scale and enable new scenarios
Scale from a single assembly line to an aggregated view across your operations. Add new equipment and capabilities at your own pace. Use your solution as a starting point for expanding to scenarios like predictive maintenance.
Driving digital change is easier said than done. While the benefits that digital transformation offers are tremendous, there is no single, one-size-fits-all approach. Each firm’s journey is unique.
As a result, finding an approach that fits your business is critical. There are also a number of pitfalls to avoid. Well-crafted strategies can easily fail to be fully realised unless they are supported in the right ways, resulting in lost investment, lost time and an erosion of organisational support.
Digital technology has played a vital role in the manufacturing industry for years. Compared to other industries, manufacturers are ahead of the curve when it comes to incorporating digital technology into business processes.
Today though, digital is no longer simply a tactical aspect of the manufacturing business – it’s becoming vital to pursue end-to-end digital transformation in order to achieve objectives like improving efficiency and quality, reducing costs and waste, and creating innovative products and services.