Manufacturing Digitalisation Symposium – Key takeaways

On 15th July, it was an honour and a privilege to chair the Manufacturing Digitalisation Symposium 2021 and while the event is still fresh in the minds of those who attended, I would like to round up some of my key takeaways.

The Manufacturing Digitalisation Symposium saw expert digitalisation leaders share their insights at this fantastic virtual event. They have had successes in developing their own digital production processes and throughout the day shared their insights with other UK manufacturer’s.

We are in the middle of a revolution in manufacturing which is being continuously driven by the opportunities that digitalisation brings. This ongoing journey into digital transformation which includes smart technology, data analytics and connected devices is enabling manufacturers to operate on a new level. It is giving them the ability to dramatically increase their efficiency, productivity and accuracy.

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

Key takeaways:

People come first

The most important resource of a business is people. It is crucial that your people do not feel overwhelmed by jargon or intimidated by complexity when discussing digitalisation programmes. They must be engaged in the benefits of digitising, but once they see the value it can add to their businesses they will be.

Speakers at the event discussed the ways you can make people excited and not daunted by digital transformation. After all, programmes will impact current and future jobs, and inform what skills need to become more prevalent.

“The technology is the easy bit. Bringing the business, the team, the individual staff members along on the journey is the ‘make or break’ for adoption.” Helen Anderson Head of Business Improvement & Systems at TMD Technologies

Industry giants are not perfect

When implementing digital strategies and when reviewing companies’ processes, even the big boys get it wrong – even the world leading manufacturing companies can improve on their existing frameworks.

You might assume that such companies are on top of every element of their production, planning, data capture, interaction techniques and so on. This summit proved that no matter the size of a company, processes can be constantly reviewed and improved upon to maximize accuracy and efficiency.

Skilled UK workforce

Reskilling workers is something that will need to happen to keep up digital transformation. Demand is rising across all sectors for more advanced digital skills. Most larger firms are reporting challenges in recruiting software engineers and 61% are reporting difficulties in hiring data analysts.

That said, the existing workforce is making digitisation projects a success. We have a high skilled workforce within UK manufacturing that can make it all possible. Reskilling and upskilling will of course need to happen, but we are not in need of a complete upheaval. Lean on your digitally literate workers, collaborate with workforces who are currently succeeding with their projects and build upon existing successful projects.

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To conclude, when implementing a digital strategy within a business, this symposium taught us that it is critical to take organisational and operational change into account. Obstacles that typically occur along the way include cultural resistance to change, and how invested leadership teams and stakeholders are in programmes. Some tips to overcome this are:

  •  Identify digitalisation objectives
  •  Devise a clear digitalisation strategy
  •  Pick the right technology enablers
  •  Create technology leadership
  • Train your staff on implementing a digital culture.

Have a look at some related content from The Manufacturer to learn more about the ever evolving landscape of digital transformation in manufacturing.