Perhaps you recently have been promoted and are now in a key leadership role in a manufacturing company. Having started as an intern and worked your way up the ladder, you never thought about things on the corporate level. Now, as someone tasked to ensure success for the plant, you look at your company in a new light. You might think the key production equipment is rather ancient, perhaps even an antique. New thoughts surface: can we deliver in today’s competitive world with this level of operational equipment? Is it worth keeping around? Is it better to donate to a museum? Research follows your questions and through that, a phrase begins to cycle in the forefronts of your mind: Digital Transformation… but what exactly is Digital Transformation?
The Breakdown of Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation for your factory has many possible definitions and paths. For some people one facet is to connect all your assets and ensure that you can gain information and insight as to how they are run and if there are issues. This step includes expanding (or in some cases creating) your operational technology (OT) network and ensuring you have connection to your equipment and hardware. The sole purpose is to enhance your understanding through extraction of key data points (running states, uptime, counts of products, alarms, etc.) of how the OT equipment influences impact production. In other words, your visibility within the operational equipment becomes amplified. Comprehension and subsequence reveal how you can control the cost of production. From this wealth of information now at your disposal, one can also gain further understanding of the actual process by leveraging common IT machine learning and data analytic tools. With some key Digital Transformation steps you will not simply improve the system, you will be able to predict and prevent a problem before it occurs. This is enabled through use of the analytics and machine learning applications and primarily focuses on predictive and prescriptive models to improve the overall operational efficiency. From this effort, new strategies for managing costs, crew labor, materials from suppliers, and close process issues feedback loops will flow out.
No longer will you have to make snap guesswork decisions. Rather you will know with certainty what prompts the equipment’s interlude, in fact, you will know the exact reason(s) for any abrupt shutdowns or downtime. You will know if you are winning or losing productivity. You will even know the level of your waste/rework and reasons for it occurring.
With all this combined, you now know how to form a plan. How to conquer and tame the equipment inside your plant, beginning at the root of the problem and/or influence its performance positively. New strategies bombard your mind. The question of whether your equipment is worth saving has now turned into plans to add capital improvements in your next fiscal year. Now that you’re onboard, a new problem surfaces… helping your people adapt and embrace the new systems and data that they have at their fingertips.
Your New Strategy
Oftentimes manufacturers have operated their factory in the same manner for 40 or 50 years. Some of that approach is good while some of it is based in old assumptions and possible bad habits. Frequently the people are long since set in their ways and, more than not, are reluctant to accept the increase in automation and the accountability that data visibility brings. Therefore, a large and critical part of Digital Transformation is having support to teach the brilliance of what the new upgrade can now do. To address this issue, we provide focused training, adoption consulting, hyper care services, and a support hotline to be a resource to turn to 24/7, 365 days of the year. This final part is the most important as if you do not set a structure and path to adopt the new technology then there is no reason to upgrade. Otherwise, those shiny systems, screens, and data will easily be forgotten and the only outcome from the transformation will be a dent in your wallet.
It’s important to remember that Digital Transformation does not only have to mean a large-scale enterprise level multi-manufacturing facility engagement, rather, it can be something as small as a new interface and visualization of the problem. The basic fabric and underpinnings of Digital Transformation is to expand your understanding of how your equipment runs and create new strategies to increase your overall productivity. The next logical step is to embrace the new analytic and machine learning programs that focus on predicting and preventing future problems to make meaning of your data and provide a path for further benefits. From this investment, these steps, and plans, you will only benefit from a “Digital Transformation.”
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