What exactly is Digital Continuity and why is it so important for industrial businesses?

Posted on 16 Apr 2019 by Jonny Williamson

Capgemini’s manufacturing expert, Guy Williamson, reveals the opportunities that arise when businesses use data to accelerate product development and new business models.

Industrial Data Summit Keynote – Chris Cameron, worldwide sales leader for Watson Supply Chain at IBM.
Industrial Data Summit Keynote – Guy Williamson, , vice president of Capgemini UK.

“The manufacturing industry is experiencing a fundamental transformation, with rapid developments in technology enabling both the creation of new products and the “smartening” of legacy products to increase their life-cycle and productivity.”

So began Guy Williamson’s keynote speech at this year’s lively Industrial Data Summit, held in London’s Mary Ward House.

What is Digital Continuity?

Described as the “critical enabler” for smart, connected products, new business models, financial visibility and faster time to market, digital continuity is the ability for everyone working on a given product or design to view the exact same version of data and models.

It helps prevent information silos and strengthens collaboration, enabling teams, departments or entire businesses to better align their activities and become more productive.

In short, it is critical for optimising innovation across the entire value chain, and yet around 60% of manufacturers are struggling to ensure digital continuity throughout the whole life-cycle, according to research by Capgemini.

Guy noted that despite being responsible for 58% of all global R&D Spend in 2017, less than one-in-five (19%) of discrete manufacturers featured in Forbes’ list of the most innovative companies in 2018.

“This highlights the ‘anchor’ effect of legacy products and the need to rethink current approaches to product and services innovation and engineering,” he commented.

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CROP Image - Data as the foundation stone for Digital Continuity across Engineering, Manufacturing and Services - Capgemini UK Infograhpic - Industrial Data Summit 2019

Why are businesses struggling to achieve Digital Continuity?

According to Capgemini, businesses face four primary barriers:

  • An inability to synchronise different functions’ activities early in the design and development stage.
  • Creating, accessing and reusing information on how a product was designed, manufactured and serviced.
  • Difficulties tapping data from products and customers to drive innovation – only 25% of manufacturers, for example, are using data to deliver actionable insights for product innovation, and 60% say they don’t have the analytics capabilities to mine the data generated from connected ecosystems.
  • Security – almost two-thirds of organisations (62%) are grappling with cyber risks that pose significant reputational and financial consequences.

“Only few companies are making significant progress in transforming their approach,” Guy said. “Only 21% of manufacturers are at an advanced stage and close to a third are still only running pilots.”

The Digital Continuity opportunity

Capgemini estimates that the size of the smart, connected products prize globally will reach $685bn by 2020, with manufacturers forecasting that close to 50% of their products will be smart and connected by 2020.

This is one of three ‘Mega Trends’ Capgemini has identified that are driving the fundamental transformation being seen across the industry, the others being hyper-personalisation and the shift from solely product offerings to product + service.

Digital continuity within engineering has major benefits, and Guy offered several real-world examples of manufacturers already grasping the opportunities.

Michelin’s new ‘Smart Tyre’ uses RFID technology and sensors on the tyre to monitor a wide variety of parameters relating to the driving experience, the road and the tyres themselves in real-time – temperature, pressure, wear.

Aimed at the fleet market, the connected tyre leverages digital technology to deliver a premium customer experience.

On the consumer side, ‘Michelin Track Connect’ represents the first attempt by a manufacturer to sell a connected solution aimed at the private car tyre sector, co-developed by enthusiasts at Porsche Club.

The application can support drivers before, during and after circuit runs by recommended the most suitable pressures depending on track condition and will indicate what adjustments need to be made prior to returning to the track.

Executives gathered to discuss how best to take advantage of and leverage the power of digital technology at Industrial Data Summit 2019.

Airbus is launching a highly complex programme to engineer both the product and manufacturing process simultaneously in an effort to minimise time-to-market, reduce its order backlog and reduce the encroachment of competition (most notably from China).

Airbus is also integrating digital mock-ups into production environments, giving assembly workers access to complete 3D models of the aircraft in production. This has reduced the time required to inspect from three weeks to just three days.

Similarly, Newport News Shipbuilding has reported similar benefits by overlaying digital blueprints over a physical ship using augmented reality (AR) to identify quality issues, i.e. variance from ‘as-designed’ to ‘as-built’. This has reduced inspection time from 36 hours to 90 minutes.

Rolls-Royce is one the world’s largest jet engine manufacturers and uses information from sensors fitted inside the engine to track its health, air traffic control, route restrictions, and fuel use to diagnose potential faults or operational anomalies.

It also tracks and analyses engine performance mid-flight, allowing it to carry out proactive maintenance. This helps Rolls-Royce to reduce not only the frequency of unexpected or severe faults but also improve engine efficiency and lower fuel consumption. One estimate puts a 1% reduction in fuel usage as saving US$250,000 per plane a year.

How market-leading organisations success

After analysing companies that have successfully transformed, Capgemini has identified several characteristics that represent best practices. They:

  1. have a concrete digital vision and road-map
  2. make better use of their partner ecosystem
  3. invest more in digital technologies
  4. recruit and develop talent with digital skill-sets
  5. create a culture of experimentation and agility

Specifically, manufacturers need strong digital competence manifested through:

  1. Robust analytics and development platforms to take advantage of growing volumes of structured and unstructured data
  2. Advanced analytics and AI capabilities that are both delivered centrally as well as at the ‘Edge’
  3. A ‘security-by-design approach that addresses cyber-security threats and follows best practices for data management and security controls.

Guy concluded, “Of course, underpinning all of this needs to be a strong culture of data governance and stewardship and a recognition that data is the foundation stone for digital continuity.”