Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit: Productivity, efficiency and sustainability

Posted on 18 Sep 2023 by The Manufacturer

Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit, held alongside Manufacturing & Engineering Week, brought together the UK’s most senior digital-minded manufacturers to discuss the key trends shaping the sector. Here are the key highlights.

The summit provides an opportunity for industry leaders to come together to discuss how digital technologies and processes (such as IT/OT convergence, AI, machine learning, IoT, 5G, digital twins, automation and advanced analytics) can improve their competitiveness and profitability, as well as reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact. 

Digitalisation is changing how products are designed, produced, used and maintained as well as transforming the operations, processes and energy footprint of factories and supply chains.  

As such, now more than ever, manufacturers need to be able to implement a robust digitalisation strategy to improve efficiency, reduce costs and streamline operations. Featuring thought-provoking keynotes, interactive panel discussions and the popular roundtable discussion sessions Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit provided two days of collaborative learning to manufacturing decision makers. 

Keynote key thoughts 

Driving Performance in F1 Through Diversity, Culture and Innovation – Claire Sibley, Head of Quality & Manufacturing Engineering, Williams Racing

Within F1 we’re now in an era of cost cap which was introduced in 2021 with the goal of levelling the playing field across the grid. There were serious gaps between what some teams were able to spend which was creating a real technology difference within the sport.  

The cap places limits on each team, both in terms of OPEX and CAPEX per year. This creates a very different innovation challenge. Historically, F1 was technology-driven and engineering led; finding that one key factor that was going to put you ahead of the other teams on the grid. Now we’re really having to think about how we innovate across the board, and to maximise what we spend. 

It’s a really interesting time for me and my manufacturing engineering team. One of their core jobs is looking at how much parts cost, and how we optimise to reduce those costs and those of the processes associated with those parts.  

We have to maximise value, and obviously one of our biggest assets is people. Interestingly, in this cost capped world, this is a factor that can’t be disassociated from the technology that’s getting onto the track. If we’re not getting the best out of our engineers in the factory, we’re not going to get the best performance into the car on the track. 

In terms of the people piece, at Williams we’re constantly learning and evolving. We’re educating everyone to understand recruitment practices and making sure they’re inclusive. We’re also looking at leadership practices to make sure that we have a diverse workforce, which will then lead to diversity of thought which is so important. 

I’m really passionate about the fact that I’m an engineer, and in encouraging everyone, but particularly female talent, into believing that they can follow a career in this sector. 

I’m also a parent, and I want to be a role model for others and show that it’s possible to do both. I was promoted at three months pregnant and had a really positive experience through maternity leave. However, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There are still a significant number of people that lose their jobs while on maternity leave or leave the workforce within 12 months of going back. 

Our approach to diversity and inclusion is supported from the top and is driven by our tech team principal and # C-suite members. The committee we work with is led by people who have real lived experience which ensures that we’re learning from people who have a passion in a particula areas.  

We have eight work streams that cover all of the protected characteristics and we make sure that we’re conducting the appropriate research, learning and support in each. 

Culture is also really critical to performance. We’re on a journey to get back to competing at the top of the grid. But we need to have everyone on board and supporting that; we have to carry our people with us.  

In F1, you can’t stand still. The car you see at the beginning of the season won’t be the same car that’s finishes the last race. That’s the same across the board – we can’t stand still in terms of how we look at people, recruitment etc, and we need to continuously learn across the board. 

We’re looking for a consistent growth mindset, and a culture of continuous learning through everything we do. That can then become our competitive advantage for attracting people, which will then help us develop and push forward on the track. 

Discussion Table Takeaways 

Energy Reduction & Management – Carl Haycock, UK Operations Director, Domino Printing Sciences  

While energy reduction was the main topic, carbon reduction and reporting were key drivers. It was also discussed that energy reduction should be part of the manufacturing optimisation process; something that should be done by default.  

Visibility also came – the ability to measure what’s going on in the factory down to a submetering level. As well as having available data, it is vital that it is displayed to the right people on the shop floor so that operators understand the implications of what they’re doing. 

Advanced Analytics: Turning your data into insights for competitive advantage – Richard Jeffers 

The actual process of getting data out of machines and factories is challenging. And you can’t do any analytics until you’ve got the data.  

There were constant questions around what advanced analytics is versus what is just ‘good enough’ analytics. In the rush to apply machine learning and AI it is important not to forget basic data tools.  

The right people need to be involved in both the data and the application. For example, data scientists without the domain expertise will result in the wrong conclusions.  

And finally, don’t digitise until you’ve got your basic processes right. You need high maturity and operational excellence. Only then can you use data to drive further improvements. 

Connectivity: Unlocking the Potential of Industrial Digitalisation with IoT and 5G – Sundeep Samra, Manufacturing Partner, Verizon 

Connectivity is an enabler for digitalisation but you need to choose the right type of technology for the use case that you want to digitise. We talked about how IT now has the ability to drive digitalisation within an OT environment and there is a deep need for IT and OT teams to come together much earlier and faster to be able to drive that.  

We also talked about how finding the insights from data can be a challenge. So, having the right level of connectivity to get into the right analytical tools, AI, ML etc is also very important. New cellular networks can also drive faster speed to market and offer a competitive advantage if you’re an early adopter.  

Supply Chain Agility and Resilience Through Digitalisation – Chandru Shankar, Managing Director for Manufacturing, HSO 

All the topics discussed on our table revolved around the ability to collaborate across the supply chain and how can we help each other understand data and package that information in terms or ordering, demand and forecasting.  

Beyond that we spoke around ESG and traceability so that we have a clear understanding of the challenges and how we optimise them. Getting good data out of the supply chain hinges on good collaboration. 

How Digitalisation Can Meet Sustainability Objectives – Nick Davis, Deloitte 

The sustainability piece starts with the adage that you can’t improve what you don’t measure, and digital is at the centre of that; whether that’s in the factory or across the supply chain.  

For many companies, the differential impact for Scope 3 emissions is in the supply chain; it’s the biggest opportunity but it’s also the hardest one to tackle. Nevertheless, however you’re planning to use your data, make sure you evaluate its robustness before you take action. 

Revolutionising Manufacturing with AI – Andrew Kinder, Infor 

Companies are at different stages in the AI journey – some are researching, others are deploying, while some are already seeing real value. 

A key learning is to look for the business problem – there has to be a clear need rather than just trying to find a use for industrial machine learning (IML). Pick the problem and see if IML is the right solution.  

Data is of course, a big topic, but you need to make a start. Holding off until the data is perfect will probably mean a long wait – maybe too long. Start small; pilot, experiment and do things in phases. You don’t have to conquer the world in one step.  

An additional discussion point was around change management and culture – which can be quite a challenge. The people on the shopfloor need to accept what you’re trying to do if you want to bring them on the journey with you.  

Implementing a Digitalisation Strategy – Eric Helmer, Rimini Street 

Our conversation centred around making ROI as opposed to cost-based decisions and how we make those ROI-based decisions in the world of ERPs. We’re now in a world where vendors are encouraging manufacturers to abandon ownership of perpetual licences and reimplement them under internal subscription-based software as a service. 

In reality, for most companies that we speak to, their ERPs are working just fine. However, we’re seeing ERP becoming a commodity. We should not be opaque when talking about our back office systems, outsourcing and upskilling our people to work on the things that we need to get done. 

Creating True Business Value at Speed and Scale Through Smart Manufacturing Investments – Arun Achamkulamgara, Hitachi Vantara 

It’s key to create the right framework of business case and more importantly, how we articulate the benefits to the CXOs in driving a change initiative like smart manufacturing. 

Digital twins is a topic that everyone is talking about but where are we in the journey? How do we actually look at the maturity process? And most important is speed and scale. How do you leverage the ecosystem in this digital transformation?  

Channel Conflict Management: The Growth of Digital Sales Channels – Florimond de Tinguy, Vice President Sales Western Europe, VTEX

Interestingly for a digitalisation event, a lot of our conversations centred around people; what does digital sales mean for the sales force? What is the relationship between the online and existing sales team? And which parts of the business lend themselves to being sold digitally online?  

The second point is around adoption and whether customers can be turned on to this new way of selling, both externally and internally. And in terms of preparation, if you’re going to change to selling online, how do you prepare? What does that mean for processes? What does it mean for technology? What kind of investments do you need to make? 

Managing IT & OT Security Challenges in the Smart Factory – Tom Moran, Senior Lead Technology Strategist, EMEA, Lumen 

For IT and OT security in the smart factory to work well, there needs to be close collaboration between group IT departments and operational shopfloor technology teams. 

There is a need to remove operational blockers because they still exist. Security teams are still blocking operations teams from deploying the technology they need – that needs to improve. There is still a lack of mutual understanding between core IT and OT on the shopfloor. 

Companies that are doing well in this space have architects that have accountability and good relationships with the teams; they’re actually delivering data back to the business.

Unlocking the power of digital twins – Steve Penver, Head of Digital Integration, Babcock International Group 

While we’re looking at the challenges around digital transformation, we recognise that our customers are also looking to leverage digital technologies and data to drive increased capability levels to have better insights into their assets and operations. 

That means we have had to become have more agile, respond more quickly to the needs of the customer and share more risk. This requires us to be more collaborative; working with SMEs, industry partners, academia and customers to better share ideas.  

A key element that is driving our digital transformation is thinking about the digital thread of an asset to provide coherence and consistency of data throughout its lifecycle. 

Digital twins provide insight into assets while they’re in service. They also help us support our own facilities, resources and supply chain so we can model our solutions based upon the condition and the material state of the asset, respond appropriately to that and intervene when necessary.  

It’s cheaper and more effective to intervene and fix something before it breaks rather than act retrospectively afterwards. This includes thinking about the landscape as a whole and our legacy assets. Certainly, in defence we have assets that are in service for decades. So we have to add digitalisation capabilities to those assets so they can be part of the digital ecosystem and decision making going forward. 

Steve Penver, Head of Digital Integration, Babcock International Group, speaking at Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit 2023

Steve Penver, Head of Digital Integration, Babcock International Group, speaking at Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit

To underpin this, we’re looking at a common digital platform that is fully integrated. We also need it to be interoperable with our customers and supply chain which requires different thinking in terms of how we design and architect our solutions. It needs to be scalable and cloud-based to align to our customers’ strategies, which is very different for us in defence.  

Throughout the design cycle, our customers want to be involved. They want smarter contracts and procurement, so that they can adapt and be flexible. The very complex assets we design can take years. Technology advances at quite a pace within that period, so we have to think about how we can adapt the contracts and the design to incorporate that.  

In addition, most of the cost associated with these assets are in the decades of service rather than the design and build. Therefore, we have to think about how we design for support, to ensure that costs and emerging capabilities are managed. 

We have a platform approach to design, and the digital capabilities that sit alongside the physical assets. This allows the seamless transition into support and operation of the assets and for smart asset management to be embedded as part of the capability going forward.  

This is where we start to introduce digital twins to understand the material state of an asset, its performance and prediction of use. This allows us to then manage our support to best react to change within the operating environments.

Manufacturing is Under Attack: Threat Mitigation and Risk Reduction – Ali Neil, Managing Director, Verizon 

Verizon recently launched our Data Breach Investigation Report, a compendium of data breaches and incidents from 83 contributing organisations around the world.  

We bring that information together to work out who the threat actors are (organised crime, nation states, internal people inadvertently doing something wrong); what actions they’re taking (phishing, malware, hacking); and the targeted assets (servers, end user devices, people). 

We also look at what are the threat actors trying to do, via our CIA triad of ‘confidentiality, integrity and availability’. We bring all this information together, look at the trends and establish what is going on in the world of cyber security based on that broad data and analytics.  

Manufacturing is one sector that is under attack. As part of the report we analysed just over 1,800 incidents, and 262 breaches that specifically fell into the manufacturing industry code, with the biggest problem being system intrusion – a fairly concentrated attack using malware or hacking.  

For 80% of those attacks, the end game was ransomware, which still represents 24% of breaches and denial of service attacks (DoS) represented 67% of the incidents in the manufacturing space.

Ali Neil, Managing Director, Verizon, speaking at Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit 2023

Ali Neil, Managing Director, Verizon, speaking at Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit

Manufacturing is such a complex, 24/7 dependent operation. If malicious actors can target that availability aspect of the CIA triad and affect operations, they can make money, which is the motive behind 95% of all breaches that we see – ransomware is currently increasing to seven and eight figure sums.  

The challenge for many manufacturers is that they’re approaching security from an IT perspective, but operate in an OT world, so are questioning how to prevent security breaches from happening when it’s ultimately an IT-driven decision.  

Therefore, there needs to be more collaboration across different practices, because as manufacturers progress towards digital transformation and the digitalisation of processes, the systems they use will become more connected to networks.  

A second piece of advice is to have a plan in place. When we see customers who are reacting to a ransomware attack, they have often needed to approach the board for approval to turn off a network etc.  

That causes a delay, and if that lasts for nine hours, for example, it could be the difference between £5m and £75m. So in order to be able to respond to these types of attacks that proliferate incredibly quickly, you need a clear plan that is tested and shared with the board.  

Training is also an area where manufacturing could do more, as much of it is IT-based, without any real understanding of real world challenges i.e., you can’t just flick a switch, turn off these manufacturing systems and patch them up. 

There needs to be greater understanding of how to deal with that process. A server can be updated in five minutes. However, a system operating a car production line for example, can’t just be turned off, and that’s about communication and understanding the assets.  

And because of the reality that these networks need to operate continuously, there needs to be appropriate segmentation. Lots of manufacturers have it in place now, but we have yet to see the sublime version of network configuration that is perfectly architected, orchestrated and protected if bad things happen.  

That doesn’t mean to say you have to spend a fortune, but there needs to be the right controls in place, so that if the internal IT network is compromised the factory will stay online. 

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