Top 6 digitalisation roadblocks (and how you can overcome them)

Posted on 14 Feb 2022 by The Manufacturer
Partner Content

If you are a leader within a manufacturing business and have plans to increase your level of digitisation, in order to increase productivity and decrease costs then a few of these things may be blocking your progress.

1) Lack of time

Your team is always busy. There never seems enough time to execute business as usual effectively never mind take on new projects. There are two things that you need to ask yourself: 1) what is the cost to your business of delaying the implementation of digitisation and 2) are there ways to get the financial benefits sooner while minimising the burden on your team?

Firstly, ThingTrax can offer you a free consultation so that you can quantify the value of implementing digitisation. Then you can understand the economic impact and decide the prioritisation of your digitisation initiative accordingly. Secondly, the ThingTrax platform is designed to install quickly and easily. The burden of coordination and 95% of the installation is handled by a ThingTrax Field Engineer. All your team has to do is provide ThingTrax access and help us get a signal from each of your machines. We handle the rest.

Once installed, your ThingTrax Customer Success Manager will take those people who will use ThingTrax through a short, practical series of guided learning and e-Learning modules to learn the principles as well as practicalities of using the ThingTrax platform. Thus, you can begin realising the productivity and financial benefits of digitisation with minimal effort or time on your side. Don’t let the excuse of bandwidth limitations stall your progress and performance. The reality is you can get going with a minimal time commitment from your team and minimal disruption to your day to day business.

2) Lack of IT capability or capacity

Many manufacturing businesses we speak to have an IT team or resource but fear their IT capability or capacity is insufficient to take on a project that appears technically complex. There may be a concern that implementing a technology designed to improve digitisation of your business will necessitate the installation of expensive infrastructure that is complicated to install. To be honest, that used to be true when digitisation platforms required either the upgrading of machines or the establishment of wireless or wired networks to run a system. Such systems ARE complex and expensive to install and also maintain. Avoid them!

Thankfully, only antiquated technologies require this sort of infrastructure anymore. ThingTrax is a platform built on modern technology. ThingTrax simply installs a box on each of your machines. Then, each box automatically communicates to all the other boxes creating their own, reliable network. A single gateway plugs into the factory’s Internet service. It captures the signals from the ThingTrax self-creating network and sends the data to the ThingTrax software platform in the cloud. That’s it. Don’t let doubts about your IT team’s capability or capacity stand in the way of your progress. The ThingTrax modern technology and Field Engineers will get you up and running no matter the size or quality of your IT team.

3) Legacy & mixed machines

Just like you may have been concerned about your digital infrastructure as a potential obstacle, you may also have your doubts that a digitisation technology could generate data from all the machines across your estate. You may have different brand and model of machines. Some may be new but some may be old. Surely it is impossible or costly to get a full and wholistic digital view of such a factory.

In reality, ThingTrax technology was specifically designed with you in mind because this is the reality of most factories. The ThingTrax platform is designed to bring digitisation to all manufacturers – especially those businesses who would otherwise not be able to afford it or whose machines are a mix of brand and vintage. As explained under point #2 above, the ThingTrax modern technology comes in a box. Simply install the box on each machine, regardless of brand or age, then work with the ThingTrax Field Engineer to help us get a signal from each machine. It’s as simple as that.

Having multiple brands of machines or having some older machines and some newer machines is no obstacle at all for ThingTrax. Don’t believe those who try to convince you that you need to invest heavily in upgrading your equipment to digitise. It just isn’t true. Digitise today with the machines you have. Then, use the data that ThingTrax provides to help you rationalise and prioritise your machine replacement and upgrade plan in order to improve you Manufacturing Performance in the most economical way possible.

4) Lack of financial resources

As just mentioned, antiquated technologies used to be complex to install and require lots of investment in establishing network infrastructure. Such systems do cost a fortune. Such systems used to be the only reliable option available. It’s no doubt many organisations have been delaying digitisation despite understanding that there would be business benefits. Since ThingTrax makes use of modern mesh network technology, it is much faster and more affordable to install. No large upfront capital investment is required. ThingTrax provides all the hardware as part of it’s all inclusive package. All you pay is a subscription to the ThingTrax platform. The cost of the subscription is relative to the size of your factory, how many machines you have, and which ThingTrax modules you elect to utilise.

It is priced to be accessible to all manufacturing businesses. Therefore, budget availability should no longer be a reason for stalling your digitisation initiative. Reach out to ThingTrax and find out just how affordable getting started can be. While we are at it, we will help you estimate the return on investment from adopting the ThingTrax platform. It is common for ThingTrax customers to see several hundred times ROI annually.  Making such an investment just makes business sense. This value to your business compounds month over month and year over year so it makes sense to start as soon as possible. With no large up front cost and an affordable subscription model every manufacturing business can benefit from digitisation today.

5) Concerns about interdependency with other systems such as ERP

If you are like most manufacturing businesses we speak to, you have an ERP system or you are in the process of changing your ERP system (again)! You may have also already invested in other tools for planning or maintenance or whatever. None of these systems or tools give you the full, wholistic, real-time data view of your business needed to take decisions that will improve operational execution to capitalise on financial upside or cost saving opportunities.

Nonetheless, you’ve gone through considerable effort and cost to implement these technologies, you run your business processes on them today, and you may worry that a new digitisation platform won’t interoperate with them or will result in overlap.  ThingTrax is a Manufacturing Performance Platform that provides real-time data and operational tools that help you run your operations better. It is not an ERP. It can stand alone or, using our out-of-the-box ERP integrations, ThingTrax can sync job data with any modern ERP.

Furthermore, the ThingTrax platform is modular. That means you only adopt the modules that you need. If you already have tools that are specialised to do certain things, no problem. Keep using them. Where it makes sense we can integrate with those tools. Or, if it makes sense, over time you can eliminate the cost of some other tools and instead adopt the ThingTrax module instead. In other words, ThingTrax is a modern, open, and modular platform that can easily interoperate with your existing systems and accommodate your needs as they evolve over time.

6) Belief that data cannot be automatically captured from manual processes

Within your factory you may have some activities, such as assembly or packing, that are manual in nature. As far as you are concerned, these manual activities are an important part of your manufacturing process. If all you get is data from the machines across your estate and you don’t get data about the manual activities in your process then you are getting an impartial view. It seems every system you are aware of or have investigated is incapable of solving this problem – until now.

In addition to machine monitoring, the ThingTrax platform also offers computer vision capabilities. By using pre-existing cameras, or by installing a few new cameras, the ThingTrax platform can observe these manual activities with AI algorithms giving accurate data. No more data blind spots. With ThingTrax you can get a complete, wholistic view of all your operations whether mechanical or manual.

About the authorPaul Reader, CEO, ThingTrax

ThingTrax is led by Software-as-a-Service veteran Paul Reader as CEO, ThingTrax offers a Manufacturing Performance Platform leveraging IoT technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud computing to provide automated, real-time, factory-wide data and actionable insights that enable optimised operational execution.