Digital manufacturing a growing influence on business success

Digital Manufacturing Week and the Digitalising Manufacturing Conference showcased UK manufacturing in optimistic mood. Members of the cross-industry Digital Readiness Level Tool organisation were there to hear inspirational stories from suppliers, makers and their customers.

Digital Manufacturing Week was a Venn diagram of overlapping experiences – each designed to enable different subsets of The Manufacturer magazine’s reader community to find the best level of participation, according to their business priorities.
Digital Manufacturing Week was a Venn diagram of overlapping experiences – each designed to enable subsets of The Manufacturer’s reader community to find the best level of participation, according to their business priorities.

In late October 2018, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) hosted Digitalising Manufacturing 2018, one year on from the launch of the Made Smarter review – you can read The Manufacturer’s round-up of all the key takeaways here.

Shortly after, The Manufacturer welcomed a record number of people to November’s Digital Manufacturing Week activities in Liverpool where they heard from Professor Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK and the government’s Business Minister Richard Harrington, about the funding of the first £20m pilot of Made Smarter in the North West region.

Manufacturing leaders at both events shared their views on the opportunities enabled by digital technologies – and how to maximise return on investment. Here are just a few of the highlights.

Inspiring people

Look to your people and partners to drive growth with digital technologies. Far from replacing humans in manufacturing, these systems of technologies and processes are helping to future-proof employment in highly competitive industries.

Customer demands are a huge pull for innovation, and increasingly web and cloud technologies are channelling that potential. However, challenges remain with identifying and recruiting talent with the right digital skills and managing an ageing workforce with limited incentives to adopt new technologies.

Rajkaran Singh Kharbanda speaking at the launch of The Manufacturer Top 100 2018 - image courtesy of The Manufacturer.
Rajkaran Singh Kharbanda speaking at the launch of The Manufacturer Top 100 2018 – image courtesy of The Manufacturer.

Rajkaran Singh Kharbanda of Siemens spoke eloquently at the launch of The Manufacturer Top 100 2018 of the immense influence of individual achievers as role models for positive change in complex market and business conditions in manufacturing.

It was striking how many Inspiring Leaders in the community of 500 award winners had taken the initiative in making digital technologies create a difference in their businesses.

Inspiring know-how

Draw on the digital knowledge of peers. It is true that new digital technologies are emerging all the time, but there is already a great know-how to tap into. This informal resource is becoming more searchable and more rigorous through detailed user cases published by the Catapult Centres and The Manufacturer.

Warren Services, the metal fabricator, overcame problems in raw materials purchasing by creating their own cloud-based marketplace – Bomfire.com.

Supplier knowledge had been ‘locked up’ in the experience of busy professionals. Bomfire.com is simple to use, allowing purchasing managers to collaborate on tasks across the organisation. The immediate benefits have included more even workloads, faster responses to production orders and better prices exploiting the knowledge of the whole team.

Warren Services is now looking to share and improve the Bomfire platform with other manufacturers to widen still further the knowledge base.

This article first appeared in the December/January issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here.

Viking Signs is enabling mass customisation in a traditional industry – in this case printing labels and signs. Managing director, Darren Joint is an evangelist for digital transformation, right through from customer to production line to supply chain.

He explained how they have invested in integrated digital technologies for design, cutting, printing, engraving, finishing and dispatch. In a highly competitive market this is giving them the edge in terms of great customer experience from order to use.

Inspiring leadership

Take the initiative to start or restart your digital journey. Without strong leadership in this area, businesses risk delaying investment and losing out to competitors at home and abroad.

Hosokawa Micron UK makes market-leading particle and powder processing equipment for pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food, nuclear and other demanding industries. Over 10 years ago, managing director, Iain Crosley, looked at the breadth of needs of customer businesses, and saw how exceptional equipment and services could exceed expectations.

Hosokawa Gen4 was the answer, a sophisticated yet highly practical digital toolkit for optimising customer production processes now provided as standard on Hosokawa products and available as a retrofit on competitor machinery. Iain is an advocate of the Digital Readiness Level Tool to help equipment makers and OEMs to maximise their business advantage from intelligent data.

The Digital Readiness Level Tool organisation and partner organisations are working to inspire suppliers, makers and their customers to leverage the power of digital technologies in manufacturing.

We’ve pooled our expert knowledge of all the digital technologies and all the processes and business of manufacturing to provide a sophisticated benchmarking tool for suppliers, makers and customers for manufactured products and services.

The DRL Tool is a secure online platform that is free to use and maintained by DRL-Tool.org as a not-for-profit cross-industry collaboration.

Partners and supporters of the DRL-Tool.org community interest company include: the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the Digital Catapult, the Knowledge Transfer Network, HSSMI, The Manufacturer and Edge Digital Manufacturing.

For more information about the Digital Readiness Level Tool and to take your free online diagnostic review, please visit: drl-tool.org