The 7 sins of a smart factory journey

Posted on 7 Nov 2022 by The Manufacturer
Partner Content

A smart factory enables a shift in mindset: decisions become data-driven and made closer to real time. This can open up the possibility of near-instantaneous shopfloor optimisation being executed more proactively or even autonomously. The benefits of correct implementation can result in double-digit improvements across labour productivity, factory capacity utilisation and quality and production output to name just a few.

We have identified the main reasons that prevent effective smart factory transformation – and explore and categorise them as the ‘7 deadly sins’.

1st Sin: Envy – implementing technology because you are envious of what others are doing

Adopting the latest technologies in hope to accelerate progress and demonstrate market leadership leads to little or no business benefit. Start by understanding the challenges and opportunities your business faces and then choose the appropriate technology solutions to address them – not just the shiny ‘widget’ that others use.

2nd Sin: Wrath – incurring the wrath of your people along the way

Implementing new initiatives may trigger confusion and anxiety among employees. This, in turn, can increase resistance to change and reduce your business’ ability to adopt new technologies successfully. Build a clear vision and strategy and prioritise its communication across the organisation. Show, not tell, so your people can understand the real difference that digital solutions offer.  This will help stakeholders understand clearly what a Smart Factory means for them and encourage employees to contribute, learn and share ideas.

3rd Sin: Lust – desiring all new, bespoke systems

Some can be drawn into a fallacy that their challenges and opportunities necessitate unique solutions, which introduce greater complexity and higher implementation and maintenance costs. Use proven, out-of-the-box solutions in combination with a solid smart factory IT/OT architecture (that defines the right level of configuration and integration) for a faster and more sustainable transformation.

4th Sin: Greed – being greedy for more and more data

Having the right data at the right time is key insight to make the right decisions. Do not collect as many data points as possible and then figure out what insight you need. Start by understanding which decisions need data to support them, and then capture only the relevant data points. This will enable more efficient solutions that are easier to implement and cheaper to maintain.

5th Sin: Gluttony – wanting all the solutions now

Different smart factory solutions require different levels of digital maturity and there is a limit to the amount of change a business can take at any one time. Build a roadmap with a phased roll-out that defines the appropriate sequence and number of solutions to be scaled across factories. This will enable your business to find the right balance and pace to transform successfully.

6th Sin: Pride – being too proud to draw on external expertise

Smart Factories require a broad range of capabilities and skills that most manufacturers do not have. Do not implement a new initiative without engaging and including your trusted network of partners such as consultancies, technology vendors, research institutions, academia and government bodies or you may face increased lead times, costs, and delivery risks.

7th Sin: Sloth – cutting corners on your journey

Not taking the time needed to build the appropriate infrastructure around processes can be detrimental. For example, not creating the appropriate methodology and capability to scale and deploy a smart factory can slow, if not paralyse, your ambitions. Define your ‘scaling toolkit’ early and use it to accelerate deployment.


Smart factory initiatives are complex to implement and require a range of skills and experience to be successful. Understanding the common pitfalls is a great starting point and will maximise your chances for success.

Will you be at Digital Manufacturing Week 2022?

Visit Deloitte on stand F37 or join Deloitte’s session in the Leadership & Strategy solutions theatre at Smart Factory Expo to discuss the successful implementation of a smart factory.

To attend Smart Factory Expo from 16-17 November at this year’s Digital Manufacturing Week, head over to com/expo and book your ticket. Admission is free for manufacturers. Solution providers, schools, institutions and press representatives are advised to contact us to find out how they can get involved.


*Tickets are for manufacturers only.

About the author

Nick Davis leads Deloitte’s Digital Transformation offering for industrial clients, focused on the use of digital in transforming supply chains and manufacturing operations. He leads the UK firm’s focus on Industry 4.0 and Industrial IoT, and helps global manufacturers to deliver the outcomes from their most challenging Digital-enabled transformation programmes.