Five benefits of digital manufacturing

Posted on 16 Mar 2018 by The Manufacturer

As the fourth industrial revolution continues to disrupt entire industries, manufacturers must react quicker than most to transform and develop new capabilities that can drive revenue and growth.

IDC believes that a third of top 20 companies in key industries will be disrupted by new competitors in the next five years. Add to that continued concern about the manufacturing productivity gap and effects of Brexit, it’s clear to see that it’s an uneasy world to live in – one that requires constant innovation to stay ahead of the curve.

Digitisation provides it. By improving processes, saving time and money and creating closer connections with customers, it’s changing the future of manufacturing – and it’s happening now. According to the recent Manufacturing 2020 report, 87% of manufacturers are ready to invest in productivity-enhancing digital technologies.

But digitisation comes at a price. To take full advantage, businesses have to invest in new operating models, training and equipment. Is it worth it?

Here are five ways you could benefit from working digitally:

Work more efficiently

Digital technologies can improve manufacturing operations. By automating processes, identifying weaknesses and bottlenecks in the production chain and pre-testing new ideas before implementing them, your business can save time and money, while using employee time more effectively.

Initiatives like e-sourcing, automatic stock replenishment, KPI monitoring and predictive disruption analytics give you the freedom to monitor factory performance as it happens, and make improvements quickly where needed. It’s a smoother, slicker way of working.

Innovate more easily

A digital factory design is a far more flexible workplace. Instead of the traditional, linear approach, where machinery is built based on designers’ sketches and development cycles are siloed, digitisation makes it possible to plan and develop in tandem. That way, potential weaknesses can be identified and fixed as you go, rather than in hindsight.

Exciting new technologies like 3D modelling systems and data connectivity enable factories to be configured and reconfigured faster and more easily than ever before – for less money.

Share specialist knowledge

There’s a lot of ingenious, well-engineered machinery out there. However, the original designs – and the reasons for creating them – are often locked inside the heads of only a few people. As time passes and personnel changes, those vital insights and secrets are lost. Ultimately, no one in your organisation might know why a particular machine is configured a certain way – making upgrades and replacements more complex to carry out.

In a digital world, these designs are created collaboratively and stored centrally, so they can be shared with anyone. This vital knowledge therefore stays inside your company, for as long as it’s needed.

Learn on the job

Because you can build intelligence and instructions into new machinery as it’s developed and deployed, your operations stay optimised and you can pre-empt potential disruption before it impacts your business. Then, as these machines do more and more data is generated, you can also benefit from advanced analytics to constantly improve performance.

Digital systems are intuitive too. They learn from the environment around them, and can make recommendations for process improvement based on that information. It all adds up to a better manufacturing process, and greater best practice.

Make customers and employees even happier

Digitisation gives you the opportunity to introduce rigorous quality management and control; both for your own products and those of your suppliers. As well as providing peace of mind, you’ll also meet compliance demands more easily. Customers will be happier, while employees will enjoy their work more. You’ll also become more attractive to new employees, if you have a technologically advanced operation.

Download the whitepaper:

Manufacturing and Industry 4.0: Then, now and in the future

For more advice about Digital Transformation, visit