Note: This post was updated in October 2021.
Digital transformation in the industrial enterprise is happening at breakneck speed – and has only accelerated over the past couple of years.
With the right technology and partners, enterprises are leveraging a breadth of digital technologies to transform the physical aspects of their business and better prepare their products, processes, and people for the future.
If your enterprise is not already undergoing a digital transformation, the time is now. Gartner forecasts worldwide IT spending to grow to 4.2 trillion in 2021 – an increase of 8.6 percent from 2020.
Leading the investment in digital transformation are industrial companies. PTC’s State of Digital Transformation found that 92 percent of industrial companies are on a digital transformation journey and the majority (77 percent) are spending more than a $1 million annually on the effort.
However, digital transformation takes on different forms, depending on the industry, and encompasses unique business challenges and goals.
>> Check out our comprehensive list of why companies are pursuing digital transformation. <<
In this post, we’ll review five real-world digital transformation examples and the key takeaways gleaned from their experience.
High quality is a cornerstone of Volvo Group’s products and a key differentiator in the marketplace. A leading manufacturer of trucks, buses, construction equipment, and industrial engines, they have been hard at work pursuing a multi-year digital transformation strategy to increase efficiency, flexibility, and agility in their manufacturing processes.
They’re working on developing a digital thread across multiple business areas: design, manufacturing, and quality control. By having a single source of truth from both upstream and downstream operations Volvo Group can quickly respond to changing customer requirements and create custom configured products.
Their latest DX initiative is to transition to PTC products for PLM and CAD (Windchill and Creo) to enable an impactful digital engineering transformation. In their DX roadmap, they plan to connect PTC’s IoT and AR solutions.
Takeaway: With a digital thread as the backbone, there are countless use cases and opportunities to drive digital transformation across the value chain. See the case study for details on how they are delivering data from the digital thread through augmented reality to dramatically improve the quality assurance process.
In the competitive automotive space, a start-up needs to fundamentally think differently to carve out a niche in the market. e.GO, a German electric car manufacturer, is doing just that. This company has a vision for the future of transportation: low-cost electric vehicles designed to meet modern customer, market, and climate demands.
To support their mission, they leveraged PTC’s technology suite and Microsoft Azure to establish a digital thread through every aspect of their work.
Takeaway: Digital transformation is for every business, every size, every industry. With a digital-first mentality, e.GO is positioning themselves to continually adapt and improve well into the future. Check out the full case study or listen to the webinar.
Howden’s products – industrial air and gas handling equipment – are mission critical for its customers, which made unplanned downtime a significant liability. Wanting to take a more proactive approach with customers to reduce risk and unplanned downtime, they made this area a key focus of their digital transformation initiatives.
Their program Data-Driven Advantage leverages innovative technologies, like IoT, augmented and mixed reality, and digital twin, to better meet the needs of customers (especially as it relates to service) and create new business opportunities.
With the right mix of digital technologies, Howden has been able to prevent product failures and downtime, improve machine maintenance and efficiency, save time and costs, and improve workforce efficiency.
Takeaway: Howden identified a shortcoming in their long-term customer care and identified a way to solve it through pairing technologies they were already using (like IoT) with new technologies (AR/MR, Microsoft HoloLens). Read the Howden case studies: here, here, and here.
A few years ago, the U.S Air Force recognized that they had finite training resources and limited capacity to rapidly train and deploy critical personnel, and as a result, needed to expand its training strategy. The goal for this digital transformation effort is to increase the learning retention and engagement of new students during training, which would ultimately make the sessions more effective and everyday tasks safer.
Vectrona, a PTC partner, has assisted the Air Force in this effort and specifically explored augmented and mixed reality technologies and solutions. Vectrona chose PTC and Microsoft’s augmented reality technology to support the Air Force’s needs.
Vuforia Studio enables companies to distribute enterprise-wide augmented reality content on phones, tablets, and Microsoft’s HoloLens 2. Trainees can leverage the HoloLens 2 hand gestures, voice commands, and user interface to actively interact with 3D models in a highly immersive way that feels real.
Takeaway: Digital transformation can happen at all levels in all areas to solve critical business challenges. The Air Force understood the need to think differently about training and found the right partners to guide them to a powerful solution in augmented reality. Read more about how the Air Force is using digital to transform training methods.
Eaton is an intelligent power management company with over 90,000 employees in more than 175 countries. They approached digital transformation with a strategic vision by bring together leadership from across all divisions for an “Enterprise Industry 4.0 Governance Council”. Starting with organization-wide goals gave the company the guidance necessary to identify the most high-impact use cases.
Eaton selected three use cases that would scale quickly across the organization: real-time production performance monitoring, asset monitoring, and connected work cells. Standardized applications for these use cases are built on Thingworx IIoT platform, which accelerated time to value and created a foundation or additional use cases to be added on.
Takeaway: Eaton was able to accelerate the impact of its digital transformation by adopting a top-down strategy and identifying high-impact use cases that scale across the enterprise. Read the full case study.
Building a future on flexible, agile technology that’s both scalable and accessible is the foundation of digital transformation. Vital to that goal is partnering with the right technology companies that don’t just enable change but accelerate it.
These few examples are just a glimpse into the transformative possibilities and innovation happening in the industry now. You can find more examples of digital transformation in our Case Studies section.
As we look ahead, digital transformation – no matter what you call it – is an imperative for enterprises to survive and thrive amid constant disruptive forces.
Nancy White is the content marketing manager for the Corporate Brand team at PTC. A journalist turned content marketer, she has a diverse writing background—from Fortune 500 companies to community newspapers—that spans more than a decade.