Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit: Where to focus your digital manufacturing efforts

If you’re a large or midsized manufacturer, chances are you’re already piloting new digital manufacturing technologies. As productivity pressure piles up and new solutions become available, it can be hard to know where to best focus your efforts.

Deborah Sherry, senior vice president and chief commercial officer at GE Digital Europe, took to the mainstage to impart her much-sought after digital manufacturing wisdom.

Sherry began by sharing a rather shocking statistic – Unplanned downtime and poor quality costs North American process businesses over $20bn a year, 80% of which is preventable and up to 40% is the direct result of operator error.

With such a wide range of solutions and buzzwords – smart factories, digital twins, augmented reality, cobots and AGVs, intelligent line maintenance and scheduling, it can be hard to know where to invest your time, efforts and, most importantly, money.


GE Digital - Typical Digital Manufacturing Journey

After sharing what GE Digital considers to be a typical digital manufacturing journey, Sherry picked out a couple of examples to expand upon: asset performance management (APM) and field service management (FSM).

Sherry noted that CXP Group – a major independent European research and advisory firm, found that 49%of companies are already investing in predictive maintenance and a further 34% who haven’t invested yet are planning to in the next two years. That’s 83% of companies and clearly shows that predictive maintenance of assets is gaining momentum.

“Vanson Bourne, an independent market research partner, found that automatic collection and analysis of service data brings a 14% revenue boost,” Sherry continued. “For every dollar spent on this, companies can expect $4.44 return, almost five-time the initial outlay, which demonstrates that asset and service data yields significant revenue influence.”

Real-world examples:

Gerdau is a leading producer of long steel in the Americas and the largest scrap steel recycler in Latin America. It is using asset performance management (APM) to save $4.5m a year from their maintenance bill and achieved ROI in half the time they expected.

SIG is a Swiss-German food and beverage packaging manufacturer who have a long history of data collection and analysis on their machines. Their in-house IT team had started more than 150 digital transformation projects, so they identified six priorities and channelled their efforts there. SIG knew that for them, buy was better than build.

P&G recognised that digitalisation is a journey to take in steps rather than all at once. They’re now moving data from multiple plants into the cloud to reduce server costs while meeting data compliance requirements, so on that basis alone it created value. For the future, P&G are positioned to capture the benefits of analytics not only in one factory, but across 100 globally.

So, how do manufacturers decide where to focus their effort?

  • Some technologies will deliver greater ROI than others – there are new technology solutions to old problems, and just because a problem has been around forever, doesn’t mean it can’t be solved.
  • The question is not where to start, but where to focus – select the technology that will scale and focus in the areas that support your business strategy
  • Predictive maintenance, driven by APM + FSM, key to value creation – manufacturers have been slower to realise the potential of this than other industries, but are catching up fast
  • Build vs buy analysis is critical – a full view of the upfront and hidden costs will put you in the best position to make an informed decision for the success of your business
  • You don’t need to do it all at once – but you do need to know where you’re going!

Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit has been bringing together senior industry executives for more than a decade, and is the biggest manufacturer-to-manufacturer conference in the country.

It is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Digital Manufacturing Week, an annual celebration of UK manufacturing excellence that takes place every November in Liverpool. This year saw 887 delegates attend Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit (up 45% on 2017) and 5,322 visitors to Digital Manufacturing Week (up 36% on 2017).

Clear your diary and join us next year: 13-14 Nov 2019!