Using connectivity to create a competitive advantage

Posted on 15 Nov 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Connectivity has the potential to disrupt even the most traditional industries, as Asif Moghal, Autodesk’s senior industry manager for design & manufacturing, explained during his keynote at The Manufacturer Leaders Conference this morning.

Asif Moghal, manufacturing industry manager, Autodesk.
Asif Moghal, manufacturing industry manager, Autodesk.

“People think connectivity has to be very complicated, but in reality, it really doesn’t,” Asif Moghal declared.

He detailed the real-world case study of A-Safe – an innovative UK manufacturer of flexible plastic of safety barriers and bollards for warehouses, airports and car parks.

“When ‘stuff’ sits in a warehouse, that’s when it is at its highest possible value – both for those who manufactured it and for those who’ve bought it,” Moghal explained.

“A-Safe protects people and property while boosting profit and productivity. They exist to minimise any disruption to the flow of ‘stuff’ coming in to and out of warehouses.”

Warehouses are obviously high-traffic areas where human workers and forklift trucks frequently interact. Traditional ways of minimising any danger include the use of high-viz jackets, painted yellow lines and rigid barriers. However, jackets can be forgotten, painted lines can be stepped over, and any impact usually results in damage to the barrier and to the forklift.

“A-Safe decided to think differently, to bring science to safety, and resulted in their deformable, flexible range of barriers. It was an innovation which quickly saw them become market leaders,” Moghal explained.

Lee Hopley was speaking at The Manufacturer Leaders Conference which is co-located with Smart Factory Expo and is taking place this week at Exhibition Centre Liverpool.

Autodesk is exhibiting at Smart Factory Expo – you can find them at Stand (S)16

You can follow all of the action through the hashtag #UKmfgWeek on Twitter. 

However, that wasn’t good enough for A-Safe. They didn’t want to be mere market leaders, they wanted to achieve market separation, opening a gap that their competitors would struggle to close. Such a goal necessitated a shift in the way the business operated.

As the business had grown, internal siloes had formed, detrimentally affecting the organisation’s connectivity and communication.

A-SAFE Health & Safety Barriers
Any responsible facility manager will mark segregating personnel from workplace vehicles as a priority.

“A-Safe didn’t want to just become more productive, they wanted to combine design and manufacturing in to one discipline,” noted Moghal. “They wanted the capability to offer their platform-as-a-service (PaaS), they wanted agile product development, they wanted to offer an end-to-end, unique customer experience. What they wanted was the ‘Future of Making Things’.”

To enable such a transformation, A-Safe created its ‘RackEye’ System – a simple, smart, connected sensor which attaches to warehouse racking and offers real-time monitoring and damage detection 24/7.

Using patented technology, the system tracks and records every impact, but only alerts – via an app notification – when an impact has caused damage to racking legs. In essence, it enables quicker, smarter decisions to be made.