Digital solutions are changing the way humans interact with machines, heralding a new era of automation of manufacturing in business. Manufacturers are using insights from digital solutions to ensure that their plants are as safer, more efficient, and increasingly productive. Manufacturing in business is being reshaped by the power of data.
Business transformation is key to ensuring the best process and systems are being implemented in an organization to improve efficiency and effectiveness—and to satisfy stakeholders. This undertaking involves streamlining processes and systems to keep up with an evolving marketplace, and is encompasses three key areas of change:
Operational business transformation is the process of doing what you’re already doing, but faster, better, and more efficiently. For many companies, this will require implementing digital solutions, as they provide new ways to solve old problems. Operational change can dramatically improve efficiency and customer satisfaction, but it is not enough by itself to stay ahead of your market’s curve.
Real business transformation comes after changing your fundamental business model. Operational model business transformation is not just improving your processes, but fundamentally changing the way you do it.
For example, Netflix moved from manually sending DVDs to their customers to allowing them to stream content online. This marks a fundamental operational model shift. A purely operational shift would have constituted tracking DVDs more efficiently and processing orders faster. Similarly, a shift from analog to digital in any industry marks a fundamental operational model shift.
Whereas operational model business transformation means providing your service in a new way, strategic business transformation means shifting the service you provide. Examples of this include Amazon moving from selling books to providing a streaming service, Google evolving from being a search-engine to providing driverless cars, and Apple transforming from selling computers to consumer pocket gadgets. If done right, innovative strategic thinking for manufacturing in business can reinvigorate growth.
Digital transformation in manufacturing is centered around connectivity and tapping into important data. Combining traditional manufacturing processes with innovative technologies allows manufacturers to learn from new data and make more empowered decisions, leading to greater efficiency and effectiveness.
Predictive maintenance is one of the ways digital solutions can radically improve the efficiency and lifecycles of the machines within manufacturing. Predictive maintenance harnesses the power of data collected by connected machines to prevent future breakdowns. By having access to vast amounts of data produced by a connected factory, it’s possible to know when machines are likely to break down or perform at sub-optimal levels in the future. This decreases the chance of a costly outage. It also means that manufacturing plant workers can schedule maintenance procedures at a time that suits them. The amount of data collected through connected machines also allows you to inform future product development, meaning you can design faster, cheaper, and more efficient manufacturing assets in the future.
Augmented and virtual reality are two technologies that are changing the way that we engage with technologies. Augmented reality is the layering of digital information on top of the real, visual world. This has opened the door to game-changing onboarding processes for new employees. Instead of relying on clunky textbooks and PowerPoint presentations, new recruits can gain hands-on experience with augmented reality headsets. They can visualize 3D versions of the assets they are handling, as well have real-time updates on the key performance metrics of any asset in a plant’s manufacturing line. These technologies are transformational for manufacturers.